Ethnic Studies, Women and Gender Studies Departments targeted
THE SANTA CLARA
January 26, 2017
On the heels of President Trump’s decision to beef up border security and nix federal funding for sanctuary cities, white supremacist flyers and stickers were found around campus. It has left members of the Santa Clara community fearing for their safety.
Senior Lyn Ishizaki-Brown, who works in the Women and Gender Studies Department in St. Joseph’s Hall, was shocked to find white supremacist flyers posted on the bulletin boards of the Women and Gender Studies and Ethnic Studies Departments.
“This building and this department is very much like a home. It really does feel like someone came into our home and disrespected our space, us and all the people that we share it with,” said Ishizaki-Brown, who found the flyers on Tues, Jan. 25. “We represent a lot on this campus in terms of not being accepted and not being valued, so to have someone specifically come here and put up these hateful things is very troubling.”
The flyers advertise a racist, white supremacist group called Identity Evropa, which describes itself on its Facebook page as “an American based identitarian organization dedicated to promoting the interests of People of European Heritage.”
Deepa Arora, communications director for the Office of Marketing and Communications, said the administration determined that non-affiliates put the white supremacist materials around campus, not Santa Clara students.
Many of the flyers contain pictures of greek statues and phrases such as “protect your heritage” and “protect your future.” Among other slogans, the flyers also boast the group’s name, Identity Evropa, at the bottom.
“These groups are meant for our eradication. Let alone they don’t want us to be on campus—they don’t want us to exist,” said Isaac Nieblas, director of the Multicultural Center. “This is a dehumanization of me as a person and my own identity.”
Ishizaki-Brown said it is scary to think about white supremacy existing in the world around her, but it is even more terrifying to have it on this campus since it represents a serious threat to the safety of many people.
Linda Garber, an associate professor in the Women and Gender Studies Department, said she filed an EthicsPoint report after Ishizaki-Brown saw the postings in St. Joseph’s Hall. She also reported the postings to Campus Safety and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion.
“I am sickened by the whole thing,” Garber said.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous for safety concerns, said she found a white supremacist poster attached to a light post at the intersection of Bellomy Street and The Alameda on the night of Mon, Jan. 23. She said she used her keys to rip it down.
I was unprepared for the content of (the) sign,” the student said. “Although it’s naive to believe that neoNazism only happens ‘other places,’ it’s still disturbing to find evidence of them outside your house. Although these posters are disturbing, we should not be intimidated by them.”
Around 7 p.m. the night of Jan. 24, Associated Student Government President Lidia Diaz-Fong found a Identity Evropa sticker posted by the elevator buttons on the second floor of the Locatelli Student Activity Center.
Diaz-Fong said she feels “disturbed and disgusted” that people chose to place a symbol of white supremacy in a place that houses organizations such as ASG and the Santa Clara Community Action Program, which does volunteer work locally.
“We are the organizations that try to advocate for students regardless of identity, race, nationality or ethnicity,” Diaz-Fong said. “Putting (the stickers) in Locatelli shows us that they want us to be intimidated and that they want us to stop advocating for the communities that need us the most.”
Ray Plaza, director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, found the same flyers on all three floors of Kenna Hall on Sun, Jan. 22 and said they were attached to bulletin boards and classroom doors.
Early in the morning on Jan. 24, Clayton Moraga, who lives on campus, was walking through campus to get his first cup of coffee of the day when he saw a Identity Evropa flyer wedged into the front of a newspaper distribution bin for The Santa Clara.
Moraga brought the flyer to his wife, Sarita Tamayo-Moraga, a senior lecturer in the Religious Studies Department, and reported it to school officials.
In an Oct. 2 post on Identity Evropa’s website, the group wrote that they were launching “#projectsiege,” an effort to spread the message of white supremacy by speaking to students on college campuses around the country. The post listed roughly two dozen universities that the group visited, including several California schools such as San Jose State University, University of California, Davis and San Diego State University.
The post also stated that the group was leaving fliers and stickers around campuses to help “garner name recognition” and “let potential applicants know that we have members in the area.” It remains unknown whether or not any Santa Clara students have joined the white supremacist group, or if visiting members of Identity Evropa posted the flyers around campus.
Moraga said he thinks that the current political climate has emboldened white supremacists, and mentioned that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon makes a living off of these views. Bannon was the former executive chair of Breitbart News, a website that was re-branded as a white nationalist publication several years ago.
“Unfortunately, our current president has made that kind of thinking okay,” Moraga said. “It’s really important for all of us to say, ‘No that’s not okay, that goes against everything our country stands for.’”
Nieblas said that due to his Mexican heritage, he has experienced a significant amount of hate speech in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona from people belonging to various white supremacist groups like the Minutemen and neo-Nazis.
“There is a pushback from these communities that do not see the beauty in diversity and would rather just instill white nationalism and white superiority,” Nieblas said.
He said that neo-Nazis spewed hateful rhetoric at him and his family when they participated in marches calling for the expansion of immigrant rights. Nieblas said that white supremacists also doubted his intellectual ability and told him that he couldn’t achieve anything because he was Hispanic.
Ishizaki-Brown said she hasn’t noticed people at Santa Clara harboring white supremacist viewpoints, but that there is tolerance for white supremacy on campus. She said people are more willing to listen to the opinions of white supremacists and give them a chance—something she called “dangerous.”
“Respect is important but you can’t respect the views of a neoNazi,” Ishizaki-Brown said.
Nieblas said it was troubling to him that these individuals are roaming around campus, and that he is concerned for the safety of students of color. He said he wants the administration to take action and ensure the safety of the campus community.
“The university needs to take a stand and make sure that we as a whole community understand that these ideologies are not ideologies, (but) rather the blatant outcry of people who do not want to see the existence of black and brown and students of color on this campus,” Nieblas said.
Plaza said that the university will take the situation very seriously.
“There are some students who think that Santa Clara is going to sweep this under the rug and that is not the case,” Plaza said.
Phil Beltran, director of Campus Safety, said that John Loretto, assistant director of Campus Safety, was investigating the postings. Loretto did not respond to multiple interview requests.
In a Jan. 25 email to the campus community, Brett Solomon, interim associate provost for Diversity and Inclusion, wrote that additional white supremacist materials were also found in Bannan Hall, which houses engineering offices and classrooms.
“Santa Clara strongly opposes the views and ideals of this group, which stand in contrast to our core values of diversity and inclusion,” Solomon wrote in the email.
Solomon also wrote in the email correspondence that the posting of the flyers did not break state or federal laws, but did violate the university posting policy.
Because Identity Evropa is not affiliated with Santa Clara, it is not allowed to post information on campus.
Solomon also wrote that the university values “the free exchange of ideas.” However, she added that no individual or group is allowed to engage in “any conduct or behavior that potentially poses a threat to the safety, welfare, and/or property of the University, its students, faculty, or staff,” as articulated the the university’s Expressive Activity Policy.
“We are aware that members of our community are feeling unsafe or targeted as a result of these flyers,” Solomon wrote in the email. “We want to assure every member of the University community that (Santa Clara) is committed to promoting a safe environment through increased vigilance by Campus Safety, prompt responses to reported incidents and greater transparency when major bias incidents occur.”
Correction: Brett Solomon, interim associate provost for Diversity and Inclusion, wrote the Jan. 25 email to the campus community regarding the white supremacist flyers. Jeanne Rosenberger, vice provost of Student Life, forwarded the email to the campus community.
Contact Sophie Mattson at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4849.