White Supremacist Push On Campus Poses Challenges For Colleges

    The increased presence of white nationalist or supremacist outreach on college campuses in recent months has left schools struggling to respond.

    School officials are seeking to both respect free speech and assure students that they are safe, according to a NPR report.

    When white supremacist leaflets showed up at Purdue University this fall, administrators said they didn’t want to take the bait from “a minuscule fringe group [seeking] attention it does not deserve.”

    Instead, Purdue issued a general statement about the group’s views being “obviously inconsistent” with Purdue’s.

    At UMass Boston, where white nationalist posters have also been found, Chief Diversity Officer Georgianna Melendez said her university is seeking to honor free speech but is obligated to make all students feel safe.

    “Everyone has a right to their own beliefs,” Melendez said. “We didn’t take a position on their message except to say that we understand it’s harmful to some members of our community.”

    For some though, this approach is too gentle.

    “We have to let people know that this is not okay,” Gabriella Cartagena told NPR. “We can’t just pretend they don’t exist and continue to push them under the rug.”

    Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

    White Supremacist Push Poses Challenges For Colleges

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