In recent weeks, racist white nationalist and otherwise alt-right posters have been appearing at UMBC as well as campuses around Baltimore and throughout the nation. The unofficial UMBC Alt-Right group appears to be behind some of the postings on campus.
So-called hate groups advertising on college campuses are not a new trend; however, UMBC students are alarmed by the organization and intensity of this latest wave of postings. Some posters placed outside of the library on light poles read, “UMBC Alt-Right. Identity, Order, and Strength.” Another poster had a picture of Thomas Jefferson and asked students to “Embrace white identity today.”
Although the posters and stickers were quickly removed by general student body not long after they were found, many still wondered what the campus was going to do.
UMBC senior american studies and political science major, Richard Elliot, founder of UMBC Progressives, reached out to every applicable department and organization on campus looking for explanations and solutions. He said, “I thought it was an urgent matter because of the recent anti-Semitic incidents on campus and we want to ensure that people who believe this remain in the shadows so the ideologies of white supremacy and white nationalism don’t blossom on our tolerant campus.”
The immediate response of UMBC Administration was to pen an email to the student body, showing support for freedom of speech on campus but condemning the posting of signage on fixtures not designed to hold advertisements and that are contrary to other parts of the UMBC Posting Policy.
Still, other entities on campus are taking action against these postings.
From noon to one o’clock on Monday, March 27, UMBC Progressives, alongside several other student organizations, planned to have students that “hate white supremacy” sign a 48 inch volleyball on Academic Row that will be given to the Mosaic Center.
“The grander idea,” Elliot said, is to convene an anti-racism town-hall that would be attended by UMBC faculty and staff as well as “swaths of the UMBC student body.” Several departments of the UMBC SGA as well as other student organizations are also looking to do a similar town-hall style forum centered around matters of race and cultural identity. Expanding on the event, Elliot said, “Having events that show we have many more students who oppose this than who support it is intended to be a comfort to those who are scared by the hateful ideologies we oppose.”
So far, support for the posters has been minimal on campus, but many students have been showing their disapproval. One UMBC student who wished to remain anonymous believes “it is important for students to recognize some of these organizations, their imageries and the potential danger they pose, especially toward marginalized communities and oppose them.”
UMBC’s campus culture typically embraces diversity and cultural awareness. In a campus wide email shortly after the discovery of the signage, President Hrabowski ensured students that “UMBC is committed to inclusive excellence, social justice and freedom of expression. As a diverse academic community, we have many opportunities to thoughtfully engage in discussion and advocacy on issues that matter to each of us.”
Similar occurrences have occurred at nearby institutions such as College Park, which recently had posters urging white Americans to report “illegal aliens” to authorities and includes a website address for Vanguard America, a fascist, white supremacist group. Vanguard America, formerly known as American Vanguard, actively encourages college students to post fliers on school campuses.
Other organizations that have been known to distribute similar white nationalist signage in the Baltimore area include the Traditional Worker Party, a conservative fringe group founded by a Towson graduate; Identity Evropa, a eugenicist “fraternity;” and American Renaissance, a monthly online “white supremacist” publication, as described by the Washington Post.