Students, alumni react to white nationalist fliers on campus

Savannah Rattanavong, senior in journalism, writes "spread love not hate" in chalk outside the lower exit of Hale Library on September 13, 2017. The chalking was in response to white nationalist posters found on campus earlier that day. (Photot by Regan Tokos | Collegian Media Group)

Students and alumni are sharing their reactions to fliers posted around campus Wednesday that promoted white nationalism.

“It is sick and disgusting that anyone would say such things,” Roger Hill, 1997 Kansas State graduate, said in an online interview. “Part of me thinks it’s just college kids trying to be funny (if so, they are not), but another part of me sees our great country dividing, and I don’t understand it.”

The fliers went up just weeks after the university reaffirmed their commitment to protecting freedom of speech. However, Jon Cole, senior in mechanical engineering and member of Cats for Inclusion, said he does not see the fliers as an exercise of free speech.

“This is hate speech, and that is not a protected form of speech,” Cole said. “I believe that any sort of racist or sexist speech similar to this is not considered free speech.”

Ellen Reardon, junior in music performance, said the fliers’ message is at odds with the university’s so-called family brand.

“I just don’t think that’s the K-State way,” Reardon said. “If we’re out here talking about how we’re a family, we should be acting like it — not like this white supremacy stuff.”

Cole took a harder stance, sharing disbelief regarding the existence of a “K-State family.”

“We talk about us being a family,” Cole said. “We tell everyone coming to the university that we’re family. But the longer I’m at the university, the more and more I’m reminded that the whole concept of ‘family’ doesn’t actually exist. Especially with issues like this, if we were truly a family, we would have purged this out of our group a long time ago.”

The campus administration sent the Collegian a statement calling the posters “unwelcome,” but as of Thursday evening no action was taken by the university. Cole expressed his frustration and desire for more action by the university.

“Doing simple press releases and saying ‘the university strongly condemns this,’ they’ve done that in the past,” Cole said. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing — over and over and over — and expecting different results. They don’t just need to release press statements, they need to have action added to it.”

As a solution, Cole suggested that the university “stand behind diversity” by establishing a multicultural center. Currently, K-State is the only school in the Big 12 conference that does not have a center for multicultural students, although a group has been assembled to plan the construction of one.

Hill said he suggests more immediate action in the form of an investigation to look into who posted the fliers.

“I am not sure if a suspension is the right call, as long as no one has been injured due to the incident, but the university cannot allow any talk of segregation or any groups on campus [that are] trying to divide,” Hill said. “If they persist, then suspensions [or] fines must be implemented.”

Hey, hi, hello! I’m Rachel Hogan, the copy chief for The Collegian. I’m a senior in journalism from Olathe, Kansas. When I’m not at work in the newsroom, I like to spend my time cuddling with my dog, working as a barista and laughing with my friends.