White nationalist propaganda found on EWU campus

Students+gather+at+the+Campus+Mall+to+speak+out+against+racist+flyers+posted+around+campus+in+2018.+The+unity+Rally+was+to+show+that+EWU+dopes+not+stand+for+hate+and+discrimination+%7C+Jeremy+Burnham+for+The+Easterner

Students gather at the Campus Mall to speak out against racist flyers posted around campus in 2018. The unity Rally was to show that EWU dopes not stand for hate and discrimination | Jeremy Burnham for The Easterner

By Karlee Van De Venter, Arts and Features Editor

An email went out to all EWU students and employees on Oct. 12 regarding white supremacist propaganda found on campus. It reiterates that the school does not tolerate any sort of hate here. 

“We are all in,” the email from EWU Public Information said. “As Eagles, we respect each other’s identities and perspectives, recognizing that our unique backgrounds and beliefs contribute to the rich tapestry of culture in our community.” 

According to Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Shari Clarke, the propaganda was first brought to their attention by ASEWU President Lloyd Dees. At that time, the Dean of Students office was made aware, as well as the EWU police. 

At the time, the propaganda was a surplus of stickers being put up around campus. The stickers showcased the logo of white nationalist group, the “Patriot Front,” with a link to their website and the phrase “For the nation against the state.” 

Since then, different areas and levels of EWU administration have been meeting virtually to discuss the presence of this propaganda. This is where content for the aforementioned email was discussed. 

“The university takes this very seriously,” Clarke said. “Everybody on that administrative team was a part of this and is extremely concerned about students’ safety first and foremost.” 

“As Eagles, we respect each other’s identities and perspectives, recognizing that our unique backgrounds and beliefs contribute to the rich tapestry of culture in our community.” -EWU Public Information Email

According to EWU police Lieutenant Sean O’Laughlin, the first mention of these stickers on campus was back in August, with reports through the following months. 

The main sign coming into campus was spray-painted with the Patriot Front logo back in July. Police are looking into camera systems nearby to try and pinpoint who has been doing this, but ask that students report any information they may have. 

EWU’s facilities team is responsible for removing the stickers and graffiti, which has generally been done within the same day reports are made. 

Whoever is responsible for these acts would be charged with property vandalism through the Cheney court, booked and fined, and receive up to one year in jail. Because the stickers don’t have any specific hate messages, they could not be charged for hate speech or anything related. 

“All they’re putting right now is the logo,” O’Laughlin said. “But we know what the logo means.”

Graphic by Alyssa Scheller

O’Laughlin speculates that whoever is responsible must live or reside in the area, based on the frequency of stickers. About twenty stickers have been taken down since August. 

Right now, the group is not considered an imminent threat to students. However, if students are concerned about their safety, EWU resources are more than happy to help. Both the Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the EWU Police Department want students to know that they can reach out for support, if they feel unsafe, or if they have any questions or concerns. 

“I just want students to know that they can always reach out to the Office for Diversity and Inclusion,” Clarke said. “We want them to have the support that they need.” 

“We are here for your safety and we do not tolerate this,” O’Laughlin said. “If you see something, please say something … we’re here to provide you support.” 

Clarke also mentioned a similar incident that happened on campus three years ago from a different group, who also went to other schools in the area. As of now, there have been no reports from other schools seeing Patriot Front activity.

“We are here for your safety and we do not tolerate this,” -EWU police Lieutenant Sean O’Laughlin

Three years ago, students responded with a rally against hate, organized by students. Then-president Mary Cullinan spoke, Dr. Clarke spoke, and students had discussions about activism. 

“I know we can’t gather the way we used to right now because of COVID[-19],” Clarke said. “But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t do a virtual program if students wanted it.” 

Kim Davis from the Office for Diversity and Inclusion mentioned that the group likely came to campus because of the easy access to large numbers. On a public campus, someone could walk in, put up a sticker, then walk out with little-to-no suspicion. That changes for private campuses, businesses, or other properties. This is also why groups like the protestors from Fall 2019 go to college campuses.

The hope for now is that Patriot Front gets the hint and leaves our campus, but students are asked to keep a lookout and report information. 

“If a student sees somebody who appears to be doing something suspicious, or if they do see someone put a sticker up, then please call 911 right away,” O’Laughlin said. “So we can go over, investigate, and hopefully contact the person doing this, so we can stop this hate propaganda.” 

 

Resources students can access regarding the propaganda: 

Dean of Students: 509-359-7924

Counseling and Psychological Services: 509-359-7924

Police Office: 509-359-6498

Police Non-emergency Line: 509-359-7676