The name of a neo-Nazi and white supremacist group was written several times on a whiteboard in Thompson Hall this weekend. According to an all-campus email sent by Vice President for Campus Life Steve Klass, Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom and Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Leticia S.E. Haynes ’99, the graffiti was reported by a student to the College, and the responsible party is still unknown. Campus Safety and Security (CSS) is currently investigating the incident.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group, Identity Evropa, is a white supremacist organization that focuses its recruitment efforts on college and university campuses. They commonly post fliers, graffiti or other recruitment materials in an attempt to draw attention to the group. Materials promoting the group, which was founded in 2016, have been found on campuses such as Duke, University of North Florida and the University of Rochester.
The graffiti, according to Klass, was discovered on Sunday morning by a resident of Thompson Hall, who informed their house coordinator. “The [house coordinator], in turn, informed some administrators,” Klass said. “The fact that it was a holiday weekend slowed down the speed with which it traveled to our offices. It made it to me late Sunday evening, and I shared it with VP Haynes, Dean Sandstrom and [Director of CSS] Dave Boyer at that time. CSS began [its] investigation at that time through Monday and it remains ongoing if new evidence arises.”
The identity and intent of the perpetrator remain unknown, but the group’s white supremacist ideology has led the College to investigate the graffiti as a bias incident. “We don’t yet know who wrote the name on the board, or what their intent was in doing so,” Klass, Sandstrom and Haynes wrote in their email. “Because the organization is one that promotes hatred, we will investigate the report as a possible bias incident and Campus Safety and Security is trying to identify the author of the graffiti.”
In deciding to issue an all-campus notification, senior administrators considered the unique circumstances of each potential bias incident individually. “The three of us [Haynes, Sandstrom and Klass] consult with each other at first and then with other senior administrators as the investigation moves forward,” Klass said. “Since each one of these incidents is unique, our decisions surrounding if and when we make a broad notification will vary on a case-by-case basis.”
Those with information about the incident may contact CSS at (413) 597-4444 or the office of institutional diversity and equity through that office’s online bias incident reporting tool.