According to a report published by the Anti-Defamation League, white supremacist organizations have increasingly targeted college campuses to spread propaganda by using flyers, posters and banners.
Between September 2016 and December 2017, 346 incidents of white supremacist propaganda were reported. Colleges in Texas were targeted the most with 61 incidents reported.
UT-Austin was one of the colleges targeted by such organizations. In February 2017, posters were put up by the American Vanguard encouraging students to imagine a “Muslim–free America.” In November 2017, masked protesters appeared on the South Mall and were found to be a part of the white supremacist organization Patriot Front, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
UT Police Department Chief David Carter said UTPD is committed to making sure students are aware of its presence on campus.
“Anytime we become aware of any group or individual that is coming on campus with the intention of … espousing some violent, hateful viewpoint that we believe may affect others … we’re going to make ourselves known,” Carter said. “We want to ensure our students are safe … it’s our job to help our community get past fear.”
Following a campus town hall on Feb. 22, after the anti–Muslim posters appeared, University President Gregory Fenves sent a message about the creation of the Hate and Bias Incident Policy. Shilpa Bakre, communications strategist for the Title IX office, said the new policy is meant to be more inclusive.
“The Hate and Bias Incident Policy includes biases beyond race and ethnicity such as gender identity, sexual orientation and veteran status,” Bakre said in an email. “Therefore, the policy was purposefully expanded upon to be more inclusive and cover a greater range of potential incidents.”
Leonard Moore, the interim associate vice president for diversity and community engagement, said the University increased efforts to address student concerns regarding the appearance of white supremacist propaganda.
“One thing we have tried to do is … have more public programming, like open forums with students, faculty and staff,” Moore said. “It’s important we be proactive and stay ahead of the issues.”
Plan II senior Quynhanh Tran said the University needs to focus on campus climate as a whole rather than isolate hate or bias incidents.
“Campus climate isn’t just hate incidents,” Tran said. “It’s who do we have at this university and what issues are present that hate or bias incidents can occur?”