Coastal hosted a forum April 9 on the “Complexities of Free Speech in a Campus Environment: Extremist Propaganda on Campus.”
The forum consisted of professors Dr. Fitsanakis and Dr. Norris, and students Maeve Stewart and Madison Nowlin.
This forum was meant to address racially provocative signs on campus that were first spotted last November. The first sign included “It’s okay to be white.”
Stewart broke down terminology for students such as white supremacist, racist skinhead, Nazis, Neo-Nazis and more. Common organizations that partake in the “plot to paper college campuses with propaganda” include Identity Europa, Vanguard America, Patriot Front and the Traditional Worker Party – American Renaissance is the biggest contributor.
The American Renaissance has downloadable premade posters for users along with a 13 step how-to video educating users on where they can legally place the posters as well as what time of day so that they are not caught.
According to Stewart, college campuses have been experiencing this type of propaganda since 2013, and youth involvement has increased approximately 258%.
Nowlin, another student at CCU, disillusioned students to their preconceived notions of white supremacist groups. She stressed that current organizations are educated, wealthy white families that don’t reflect their beliefs on the outside.
“They are targeting college students for two reasons: they want more educated people for government influence,” Nowlin said. “And free speech is protected by universities.”
Since then, it has been approximated that fifteen more signs have been posted on campus. The last poster found two weeks ago.
Debbie Connor, vice president of student life and campus engagement at Coastal Carolina, reassured students that the suspect posting flyers was not a member of the CCU community.
“Whoever is doing this is going to these websites, printing them and then posting them.”
Connor said that the perpetrator appeared to be a middle-aged white man with a red back pack and hoodie. He also typically comes onto campus between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. He has also stopped driving his car on campus – he now parks his car and walks onto campus.
Comments from students included one student’s shock at the subtly of the flyers such as one reading “Don’t hate other races, just love your race.”
Another comment addresses the inspiration for the propaganda. The student hypothesized the following for the cause.
“Is it possible for them to feel victimized? And for them to project those insecurities into the propaganda?”
His comment was followed by an explanation on how whites feeling like the minority racial group because of the increase in minority activism in society.
There were also questions from the audience such as the laws that were being broken by the suspect. Connor explained the campus solicitation policy that requires the approval of all flyers posted on CCU’s property in designated locations. Since it is a university policy, it also applies to non-students.
As the panel came to a close, Connor encouraged students to say something if they see something, and to talk with students outside of their social communities in order to learn another’s experiences and perspective.
“It is up to us on how we respond as a community.”