Following week of protests, anti-Black, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ posters found on campus

Monday, October 3, 2016 - 4:38pm

A new set of alt right posters were found Monday morning on a University of Michigan cylinder posting area on the corner of South State Street and North University, citing websites that argue race determines intelligence and anti-Muslim sentiments.

One of the posters featured the Pepe the Frog meme, a newfound symbol associated with the alt right movement. Several others portrayed a Muslim man killing a white woman or characterizing the LGBTQ community as a target of violence by members of the Muslim community.

Rackham student Austin McCoy, a humanities postdoctoral fellow at the University who found several of the posters on campus, said he thought the posters gave quiet sympathizers a reason to continue to harass minority groups.

“I think at least when it comes to these flyers and these messages, they’re not just beyond hurtful, they’re violent,” McCoy said. “Or they insinuate other groups, such as LGBTQ folks or women, are naive. If these ideas continue to enter into the mainstream, eventually, someone else who sympathizes with these ideas might act on them.”

These posters follow a week of protest and discussion at the University in response to three types of anti-Black posters found hung up in Mason and Haven Hall last week. One of the posters included an explanation of “race differences in intelligence” and “reasons why women shouldn’t date Black men”.

In a statement from the University last week, administrators condemned the fliers, saying that kind of speech was not consistent with campus values. As of Monday afternoon, the University had not released a statement on the new fliers. University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday afternoon.

In remarks to the Senate Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Affairs last week, University Provost Martha Pollack noted that while the University condemned the speech, they were unable to remove fliers posted in posting kiosks, such as the Mason Hall posting wall.

Over the past week, both students and administrators have organized multiple campus events in response to the fliers and a previously planned debate over the merits of the Black Lives Matter movement.

On Monday and Tuesday, large student protests drew over 600, with many calling for the University to take more immediate action to resolve climate issues and criticizing the University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative. The initiative, a year-long effort to create a strategic plan for diversity on campus, is slated to launch on Thursday.

Both the College of LSA and University President Mark Schlissel also hosted events in response to the posters during the week, which drew close to three hundred students total.

During the forum he hosted Sunday, Schlissel told students he thinks the success of his presidency depends on his DEI plan and improving the racial climate on campus.

McCoy said for him, responding to the newest fliers means supporting the other minority groups being targeted.

“Whoever has been posting these fliers, they’ve said something to us and many different groups of people,” he said. “So I think at this point, it’s supporting everyone who’s affected and everyone who’s offended in whatever way I can.”