Students demand official action after white supremacist propaganda uncovered on campus | News

In light of the new neo-Nazi presence on campus, many students and campus organizations are trying to raise awareness of the seriousness of this situation and that it is not something the UA community should take to heart. the slight.

As of October 2021, students reported seeing recruiting flyers from a white supremacist group posted on campus. Other flyers appeared on campus on Feb. 10 reading “For the Nation, Against the State” and including the URL for the website of Patriot Front, a white supremacist organization classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Act. Center and others.

About 100 people gathered outside the Union Mall on March 4 for a brief sit-in with speakers denouncing the posters. Speakers included UAPD Director Steve Gahagans, Cultural Communities Coordinator Anthony DiNicola and Dean of Students Melissa Harwood-Rom, who condemned any presence of white supremacist groups on campus and reaffirmed her support for students. marginalized from the UofA.

Toby Klein, PhD student and president of the UA Lavender Society, wrote a list of requests for AU officials to meet in order to address and prevent the spread of white supremacy on campus. The list was co-signed March 6 by three Arkansas community organizations and nearly three dozen UA student organizations, including the Associated Student Government, the Hillel Jewish Student Union and the Native American Student Association.

Demands include a public statement from the Chancellor condemning white supremacy, issuing RazAlerts to inform students of alleged and past hate crimes on campus, further investigation of the author of the flyers, training for law enforcement officers. the UAPD on white supremacy, transparency on any investigations involving white supremacy or neo-Nazism, and for the UA Newswire to publish the list of demands.

Klein thinks the items on the list are reasonable and there should be no reason for AU officials not to be candid and raise awareness about the issue, she said.

“We want clear condemnation and accountability from some of our leaders who we trust to respond to this incident,” Klein said.

Acting Chancellor Charles Robinson issued a declarationMarch 7 on the Chancellor’s Office communications webpage, reiterating the UofA’s core values ​​and stating that the university rejects any hateful ideology.

“The recent discovery of additional material from this group is concerning, and I must be clear: we reject and oppose any effort to marginalize people through the dissemination of hate messages,” Robinson said in the statement. “The safety of our campus is our priority.

However, some students wish Robinson had taken quicker and more decisive action to condemn white supremacy.

Rudy Acosta, president of the Latinx Graduate Student Organization, said he was very disappointed when he discovered the chancellor had only posted his short statement on the school’s website, rather than sending a email to the UA community with a strong statement denouncing white supremacists.

“Due to COVID over the past two years, we know that every time the Chancellor makes an email announcement, it reaches almost every student on campus and the majority of those students read his email,” said said Acosta. “And it was disappointing that the statement he released wasn’t read by a lot of people.”

Robinson’s decision to post a statement on the website was entirely his own, made after discovering that more flyers had been found on campus, he said in an email.

“My statement on the Chancellor’s official website was independent of any request, and I chose to make it after learning of a second leaflet discovered in a recycling bin inside the Union, this which to me signaled that the effort was closer to the campus core and a deliberate attempt to capture students’ attention,” Robinson said.

Freedom of speech is important at UofA, but campus security is of the utmost importance, Robinson said in an email. Once they have a chance to review the updated list of student advocate demands, administrators will figure out how to fix some issues, if they aren’t already, he said.

“Our campus values ​​do not change because of the appearance or attempt to spread hateful material,” Robinson said. “No matter what happens to us, around us, or to us, the University of Arkansas values ​​safety above all else, and represents curiosity of mind and spirit, creativity in our approach to life and learning, the character of self and community, and our common humanity. No matter what. Deep down, I understand why groups need to be reminded that the values ​​of intuition have no not changed.

Klein thinks it’s important to hold officials accountable and make sure they’re making progress toward meeting student demands, she said.

“I would like our next steps to be for us, as a community, to come together again in a certain period of time and have some sort of public accountability,” Klein said. “For the university to tell us what it has changed, what it is able to change and for the students to let them know how they feel.”

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