by Lexi Kupor
San Jose State University discovered nine posters linked to a white nationalist organization displayed throughout campus on the morning of Aug. 12. Though campus authorities quickly removed the fliers — displaying anti-immigration and racist sentiments — before classes commenced, their intentions were perceived among many students and faculty returning to campus for the academic year.
The fliers posted contained the name of a white supremacist organization, though the SJSU spokesperson chose to omit the group name in a statement to prevent further publicity or attention for the perpetrators. SJSU chief diversity officer Kathleen Wong stated that authorities are exploring the possibility of security cameras recording footage of those who posted the flyers.
The American Identity Movement (AIM), formerly known as Identity Evropa, has since declared themselves responsible for the incident. This neo-Nazi, white supremacist group also played a significant role in the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia white nationalist rally. AIM posted photos of the San Jose fliers on their Twitter account on Aug. 17.
Similar incidents have recently occurred at schools across the country, and the posters spotted at San Jose have been found at campuses like Yale University, Rice University, and the University of Southern Indiana.
SJSU student Tony Phan explained in a statement to ABC 7 News that he “[feels] a little more unsafe” following the recent incidents, and other members of the university community, known for its diverse and welcoming student body, have expressed similar fear and surprise at the news.
University President Mary A. Papazian addressed the occurrence in a recent blog post. Though she assures students that SJSU “will always challenge bigotry and ignorance,” she reaffirms that she is also committed to upholding the values of freedom of speech, as failing to do so would violate the school’s “mandates as a public institution of higher learning.”
Papazian asserted that the intent of the posters remains unacceptable on campus, adding that the fliers were promptly removed so as to uphold the “time, place, and manner regulations” of San Jose State University. The school plans to initiate conversations and educational events focused on addressing such issues while remaining within the bounds of democracy.
(Sources: ABC 7 News, The Mercury News, President Papazian’s Blog)