The Threat of White Nationalism: DePauw’s Response

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Earlier this academic year, stickers linked to a white nationalist group were found near DePauw’s campus.

According to an email sent to students from Public Safety, the symbol was also found drawn on a chalkboard in the Lilly Center.

As colleges across the country struggle with a response to the presence of these white nationalist groups on their campuses, DePauw’s community seeks to maintain an environment where everyone feels safe.

“We know as the administrators of the college… that we have the responsibility of monitoring and doing the things that we need to do to make sure that our campus is a safe environment for all those who are here,” said Alan Hill, vice president of student academic life.  

At an October meeting, DePauw faculty and staff discussed how these and other incidents have affected the campus climate and have added another layer of fear on top of national, state and regional events that have happened this past year.

Anne Harris, vice president for academic affairs, said an unnamed faculty member spoke on behalf of students and why they feel unsafe. “What makes a lot of students of color feel even more isolated or more unsafe is that there is very little demonstration of white students caring about this,” Harris said.

Further, white students may think, “Well they’re not after me so it’s okay,” said Harris. When in reality, “That [hate groups] impacts all of us,” said Hill.

Aside from national incidents, there have been reports of at least three hate incidents on campus this academic year. These acts within the DePauw community have catalyzed this whole notion of, ‘I don’t even feel safe in my own community,’ with the community that says, ‘We’re all one,’” said Hill.

According to Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), there are 917 hate groups now operating in the United States. Twenty-six of these hate groups are in Indiana.

On Oct. 3, students received a follow-up email from DePauw police about the stickers and whiteboard symbol that represented a white nationalist group.

The email stated that, “the name of the group is being deliberately withheld so as not to promote its name or agenda.”

The challenge for Harris is to give students information, while making sure not to escalate the situation.

“For some people that specificity will de-escalate the situation, they’ll feel informed, they’ll know who it is; for others, it will escalate the situation and that’s our rub all the time,” said Harris.

President Mark McCoy has also commented on the presence of hate groups on college campuses as well as how DePauw will respond if another incident were to happen. He said DePauw is prepared for any future incidents; however, “I am happy to report that we see no increased activity of any type.”

Junior, Christian Rivera, president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, believes the DePauw community must “love people for being people. Put in the effort to get to know each other, that’s what I think is really missing on this campus.”

Hill agreed with Rivera by asking, “We’re all one, right? We’re all DePauw, right?”