College responds to hate propaganda messages

 Claire Montgomery

Senior News Writer 

On Oct. 4, President Sarah Bolton emailed the college community with news regarding hate propaganda stickers that were found on campus. “Student Protective Services (SPS) received a tip from a student earlier this week about hate propaganda posted on campus that they subsequently removed,” Bolton stated in her email. “Today we received another tip from a faculty member about multiple additional postings.” 

When the administration was made aware of the stickers, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Ivonne M. García explained, “In the morning of Friday, Oct. 4, before 8:30 a.m., a faculty member emailed President Bolton and myself photos of one of the Patriot Front’s posters that was placed behind Kauke. Dean [of Students Scott] Brown and I immediately went to locate the posters and we mobilized SPS and facilities personnel quickly to have them photographed, catalogued and removed. About 50 posters were found and removed across campus by the end of that day.” 

García said that other tips had been provided earlier, “but without a location and the person who provided the tip removed the poster before calling, we were unable to fully investigate.” Moreover, a bias complaint was filed the same day, which “notified the Bias Response Team, which includes Dean Brown and myself,” García added. 

Bolton stated that the stickers displayed messages like “Not Stolen, Conquered” and that they “are attributed to the Patriot Front, a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).” 

According to the SPLC, “Patriot Front is an image-obsessed organization that rehabilitated the explicitly fascist agenda of Vanguard America with garish patriotism. Patriot Front focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country.”

Bolton said that the stickers could be attributed to Patriot Front due to the fact that some stickers identified the Patriot Front, including their name and website. Moreover, Bolton commented that recent news articles as well as Patriot Front’s Twitter account allowed the College to identify which group was responsible for distributing the stickers. “On Patriot Front’s social media they showed photos of stickers and other postings placed at over 100 campuses within the week that Wooster was targeted. (Their Twitter account, where these postings were made, now appears to have been suspended for violation of Twitter’s rules),” Bolton said. 

Shortly after Bolton’s initial email was sent, García invited the campus community in an email to a “Campus Gathering Against Hate,” which was held at 5 p.m. that same day (Oct. 4) in the Lowry Pit. “Our goal was to come together as a community that rejects hate speech and intimidation,” García stated. Brown also commented on the gathering, saying, “We fervently believe hate has no place on the Wooster campus and we made it a priority to share this message in our gathering in the Lowry Pit, and to give our community the opportunity to share their concerns, questions and feelings following the incident.”

During the gathering, Bolton stated that “keeping our community whole in the face of attempts to intimidate immigrant and international members of our community and students, staff and faculty of color requires much more than only contacting the police and making sure those who posted the hate stickers are held responsible.” Bolton outlined five steps the campus community must undertake in order to stand in solidarity against racist attacks, which are as follows:

• “It requires everyone standing together to make it clear that hate has no home here. 

• It requires everyone speaking out to make it clear that excellence demands an inclusive, welcoming and equitable community with as many voices, perspectives and identities from across the US and around the world as possible. 

• It requires everyone speaking out to make it clear that diverse and international community is Wooster’s foundation and greatest strength, one which we are honored to have, and committed to support and grow.

• It requires action from us as a college to make this an ever stronger, more equitable and inclusive place, free of discrimination. 

• And it requires everyone standing with and standing up for those who are targeted, to be sure that no one stands alone.”

Although the entire college community was invited to the event, the attendance was relatively low. However, Cormac Kelly ’20, provided an insight into the low attendance. “Because the gathering occurred at the beginning of fall break, it was lightly attended with far more administrators than students present. Since it was not known who had put up the stickers, there was very little the administration could do at the meeting than attempt to reassure the 15 students who attended,” he said.

During the gathering, Bolton stated, “These actions are clearly intended as a national campaign of intimidation and harassment through racist vandalism. This is illegal, and we will not stand for it.” Local law enforcement has thus been informed of the stickers posted. So far, there has not been any success with finding the person who is responsible for the postings.

 

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