President Barron Responds To White Supremacist Fliers On Campus
Penn State President Eric Barron released a letter Thursday night responding to the reemergence of fliers on campus from white supremacist group Identity Evropa.
“We have expressed our obligation to free speech, which prohibits our removal of posters from general purpose bulletin boards on campus based solely on content,” Barron wrote in the letter. “We, however, want to emphasize our strong opposition to the racist ideology espoused by those who are posting these fliers.”
The fliers first appeared on campus last spring, but had since disappeared from bulletin boards across Penn State. At the time, the university delivered the same response it is now: It is opposed to the content of the group’s fliers, but “supports the right of free speech and encourages its expression in thoughtful and respectful ways, even when we strongly disagree with the opinions expressed.”
Students expressed their dismay with the fliers once again appearing on campus.
— Im Rooting for Everyone Black (@jazzvjack) September 18, 2017
So we just going to ignore this!??? https://t.co/E6ce6q36rN
— Marcus Allen (@Chico_Hndrxx) September 20, 2017
— Jason Cabinda (@jasoncabinda) September 20, 2017
The university posted its policy of posting on bulletin boards, stating that there are two types of bulletin boards — boards designated for use by university-recognized organizations and boards for public use. Since Identity Evropa is not a university-sanctioned organization, its fliers will be removed from bulletin boards for university-recognized orgs.
However, on the public boards, the fliers will not be removed, only relocated if they block other materials posted on the board.
“Increasingly, hate groups seek to take advantage of the free speech protections that are afforded by colleges and universities,” Barron wrote. “The free exchange of ideas is central to the intellectual and academic work of a university. Hate groups exploit our openness in the attempt to divide us into factions and trigger reactionary responses.”
You can read the full letter below:
In the past several days we have witnessed the recurrence of fliers touting the “Identity Evropa” movement. We have expressed our obligation to free speech, which prohibits our removal of posters from general purpose bulletin boards on campus based solely on content. We, however, want to emphasize our strong opposition to the racist ideology espoused by those who are posting these fliers. To be crystal clear – white supremacy, or any other doctrine that elevates one group above another, has no place at Penn State and we strongly condemn language and actions that promote racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, violence, discrimination and other forms of hate.
We understand that the actions of individuals from these groups are hurtful to many in our community and we share in your frustration, concern and anger. We are indeed paying attention to what is happening, not only here, but across the nation. Law enforcement is monitoring activities, and we want to emphasize that there are many resources available that provide safety, counseling and assistance to members of the Penn State community who feel impacted by these displays of intimidation.
Increasingly, hate groups seek to take advantage of the free speech protections that are afforded by colleges and universities. The free exchange of ideas is central to the intellectual and academic work of a university. Hate groups exploit our openness in the attempt to divide us into factions and trigger reactionary responses. The safety of our community is paramount and we encourage everyone to report incidents of concern so that they can be investigated.
While hate groups may post their fliers, their ideas will never take root here. What they stand for is contrary to what it means to be members of the Penn State community and the human community.
Eric J. Barron
President, Penn State
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