Photo submitted by Dalton Slatton
Contributions by Andrew Wigdor / News Editor
Flyers advertising “Identity Evropa” were reportedly found on Middle Tennessee State University’s campus on Monday. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Identity Evropa is categorized as a hate group, and according to the Anti-Defamation League, the group is a white supremacist organization.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee issued a statement, which condemned the group, Monday evening.
I was made aware today that unauthorized posters and fliers promoting the group “Identity Evropa” were recently found on our campus.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated Identity Evropa as a hate group, and the Anti-Defamation League has identified it as a white supremacist organization. Media reports indicate the group generally targets college campuses across the country with its message of white supremacy and preserving European identity. They do so hoping that their demonstrations and hateful messages will spark confrontations that bring notoriety to their cause.
While the First Amendment protects the right to utter even abhorrent speech, it also protects our right to speak out forcefully against ideas and viewpoints that are contrary to the values of Middle Tennessee State University. This campus is rich with the diversity found in our students, faculty and staff. I am proud that our community celebrates and supports the differences among us, as we also seek to build upon our commonalities. There is no place here for hateful rhetoric that diminishes any member of the MTSU family.
We strongly condemn the views of white supremacist, neo-Nazi and other hate groups. While we will respect the right of free speech when exercised within the policies of the university, we will also continue to work to make our campus as safe as possible and to advance the values of our True Blue Pledge. Those values commit us to reason, not violence; to both listening and speaking; and to our membership in this diverse community. We will maintain our focus on the enrichment that comes to our campus through the wide range of backgrounds represented by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and we will refuse to give to hate groups the attention that they seek.
The flyers were reported throughout campus with confirmation of one being found at Lyon Hall, an on-campus dormitory.
“In this country, where freedom of expression is enshrined in our Constitution, I have long believed that the remedy for speech that I disagree with or even find abhorrent is (more) speech,” said Debra Sells, the vice president of student affairs.
According to MTSU policy, signs posted on campus must adhere to a set of standards. Only registered student organizations, faculty members, administrative staff or other university-affiliated organizations are granted permission to post flyers or advertisements on campus. However, according to Sells, administration has “no information about who hung the posters.”
“We will … carefully monitor our university policies regarding postings of (flyers), reservation of space and gatherings of various kinds to make sure that we are doing all we can to help keep our campus as safe as possible,” Sells said.
Approximately 33 percent of MTSU’s student population is non-white. While finding advertisements for a white supremacy group on a diverse campus might be startling for some, for others, it’s a call to action.
“We are aware and doing whatever we can to prevent this kind of rhetoric from spreading through our campus,” said Raven Harmon, the vice president of the Black Student Union. The BSU is a group actively searching to be a safe haven for students of color, and member strive to live the organization’s values.
“We immediately thought about our members and wanted to grant them a sense of security through our organization, which promotes unity and diversity on this campus,” Harmon said.
The BSU issued a statement Tuesday afternoon denouncing Identity Evropa.
The Black Student Union of Middle Tennessee stands behind President McPhee’s strong statement against racist propaganda and propagandist around our campus. We condemn groups like “Identity Evropa,” neo-Nazi and other hate groups, who only divide our True Blue community. As an organization that promotes unity and diversity, we see MTSU as a place where every student matters. We concur with Dr. McPhee, “there is no place here for hateful rhetoric that diminishes any member of the MTSU family.” If you see something, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact your faculty. We are here for you. Stay strong. Stay aware.
Identity Evropa supports the notion of a “white genocide,” according to SPLC. They specifically target college campuses, seeking recruits.
“White supremacy is not a True Blue value,” said Dalton Slatton, a Student Government Association senator. “My hope is that the students, faculty and staff of MTSU can unite in condemning racism and preventing Identity Evropa from organizing on our campus.”
According to Harmon, groups such as BSU and other multicultural groups will be meeting with McPhee on Wednesday to brainstorm solutions for the postings before “matters get worse.”
“A hate group intentionally promoting white supremacy (and) neo-Nazi speech is a completely different form of mental trauma and issue of safety for our members and other minorities,” Harmon said.
Sells stressed the importance of living True Blue values as members of MTSU’s diverse community.
“(MTSU will) continue to showcase and learn from our diverse backgrounds on this campus, through programs, speakers and (one-on-one) interactions,” Sells said.
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