UCLA, Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC Santa Barbara students are outraged over the creation of campus “White Student Union” Facebook pages.
In the midst of outcries amongst colleges nationwide and increased tensions between administrations and students, these pages have come unwelcome to many. It seems to be the case that these pages are not being created by students, but outside groups looking to stir the pot.
UC Berkeley’s Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks and school administration quickly responded to the creation of the White Student Union Facebook page, claiming that a group unaffiliated with the university was responsible for the page. The announcement comes after student protests accusing the Chancellor as being a racist. UC Berkeley condemned the online national proliferation of ‘White Student Unions’, asking Facebook to remove the UC Berkeley page from its website, stating that it “attempt[s] to create conflict and make light of the efforts of activists locally and nationally, who have worked hard to hold us all accountable for providing a campus climate where every student is safe”.
Real groups, unlike those being created on Facebook to inflame student populations in the midst of public outcry on many U.S campuses, do actually exist.
Weekly online Neo-Nazi newspaper The Stormer has been identified as perpetuating the trend (at least partially). In a triggering article on The Stormer at the encouragement of blogger Andrew Aglin (who has been encouraging this kind of behavior for years) and others, Neo Nazis, white supremacists, and supporters of the like nationwide set to work in creating Facebook pages for universities nationwide, many bearing the same copy-and-pasted rhetoric, with few if any of the pages likes coming from actual students or affiliates of said universities.
In a message addressed to Student Leaders, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Janina Montero of UCLA announced:
There is good reason to believe that this group is the work of people outside the UCLA community. In fact, nearly identical copies of groups also called “White Student Union” surfaced this past weekend at more than two dozen other institutions across the country with similar postings and language. There is also no registered student organization at UCLA with this name. The page appears to be designed to fuel conflict and provocation rather than to foster a serious and constructive dialogue among students about issues of race.
Perhaps the most famous ‘White Student Union’ formed in recent years was at Towson University in suburban Baltimore, back in 2012, with a mission to “participate in political, cultural, educational, and social events that celebrate European heritage.” WSU Townsend University, although not officially recognized by the university, has a self-reported 57 members. In an interview for Vice, Founder Matthew Heimbach claims that the WSU’s mission is to protect White European cultural identity and “Demand equality for white people on campus,” in addition to “preventing black on white crime in the city” which, the WSU claims is due to a “black male crime problem”. Other active WSU groups have been created on college campuses in Fort Worth, Texas and Bloomington, Indiana, amongst many others.
Since the publicization of the Berkeley group and the unveiling of its motivation, similar Facebook pages have appeared (and many have quickly shut down) from universities including UCLA, UC Davis, UT Austin, Virginia Commonwealth University, San Jose State University, Washington State University, Tarrant County college and more. Along with the Berkeley page the UC Davis page has also been shut down, although the UCLA and UCSB pages remain active.