MTSU president, Black Student Union respond to second vandalism - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

MTSU president, Black Student Union respond to second vandalism incident by white supremacist group on campus

Courtesy: MTSU Black Student Union Courtesy: MTSU Black Student Union
Courtesy: MTSU Black Student Union Courtesy: MTSU Black Student Union
MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

Both the MTSU president and the president of the university's Black Student Union have issued responses on Wednesday after a white supremacist group vandalized Black History Month signs on campus. 

"We are aware, and are closely monitoring, the posting of unauthorized materials on our campus by Vanguard America, a white supremacist group," said MTSU President Sidney McPhee said in a letter to the university. "Some of these posts have been done specifically to deface materials related to our campus celebration of Black History Month; others have been anti-Semitic."

According to Black Student Union president Kelly Richardson, this is the latest in a "surge" of hate-related incidents on campus this year. 

The organization says they were notified Vanguard America Middle TN had vandalized their Black History Month posters with other derogatory signs disparaging of African-Americans and the Jewish community around 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday after the white supremacist group tweeted, "Round 2 'n****'" and "do something" at the BSU account with photos of the vandalism.

The tweets reference another incident earlier this month when Vanguard America covered Black History Month signs with flyers saying "Protect White Families." 

"Too many students have contacted us throughout the year of unchecked racism in their classrooms," the BSU said in their statement. "We have ignored this problem for too long. MTSU is beyond the need for condemnation and conversations; action is now necessary."

While the BSU say they appreciate statements made by MTSU's president and other school officials, they say they still plan to file an incident report against the organization they hope will result in a full investigation by the university as well as increased surveillance on campus where the vandalism occurred until the culprits are identified and punished.

In the release, BSU President Kelly Richardson was quoted, saying:

“How do you respond to hate? This has been an ongoing question for leaders from Fredrick Douglass to BSU founder Sylvester Brooks. Every two to three months I have to battle with my words to invoke an eloquent response to offensive, ignorant, and repulsive hate on MTSU’s campus. Last year, Identity Evropa posted their imagery on campus property. Early this month, there is targeted vandalism on campus property. Today, I am bombarded with N-Words on my organization’s social media. What is next?

While I do not seek to give power to these racist organizations, it is a necessity that our story is told. We, BSU, condemn all white supremacy groups that only seek to divide our True Blue community. How does MTSU respond to hate after these attacks? I ask that President McPhee takes immediate action in resolving campus climate. It will take more than holding hands and having hour long discussions about race. We hope to work with him to find the appropriate response. To our students, be safe and smart. If you see anything, contact MTSU_BSU or your faculty member. We are here for you.”

The group is also asking for more diversity training for university faculty and staff. 

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee's full statement to the university reads:

To the University community,

We are aware, and are closely monitoring, the posting of unauthorized materials on our campus by Vanguard America, a white supremacist group. Some of these posts have been done specifically to deface materials related to our campus celebration of Black History Month; others have been anti-Semitic. Media reports indicate that several universities across the nation, including some in Tennessee, have discovered similar materials on their campuses.

Members of this group, and other similar groups, are targeting college campuses in the hopes that their hateful messages will bring attention and notoriety to their causes. As such, my note to you today shall be brief and to the point.

There is no place here for hateful rhetoric, displays or actions that demean any member of the MTSU family. While we will respect the right of free speech when exercised within the policies of the University, we will also continue to take all appropriate action to make our campus as safe and inclusive as possible.

We strongly condemn the views of white supremacists and other hate groups. We will maintain our focus on the enrichment that comes to our campus through the wide range of diversity represented by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and we will refuse to give to hate groups the attention that they seek.

The values of our True Blue Pledge commit us to reason, not violence; to both listening and speaking; and to our membership in this diverse community. I am proud that our community celebrates and supports the differences among us, as we also seek to build upon our commonalities.

Sincerely,

Sidney A. McPhee

President

Since the incident on Wednesday, Vanguard America's Twitter profile has been suspended. 

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