Within the last week nearly three dozen so-called “White Student Unions” claiming to be associated with universities across the country have cropped up on Facebook. In response to complaints from university administrators, the social networking site is shutting some of them down.
According to KPIX-TV, Facebook shut down one such site that was associated with the University of California, Berkeley, this week, citing that it was created by a fake user profile as its reason.
The university’s Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a statement, according to the news station that while it honors freedom of speech afforded by the First Amendment, it does “not endorse this attempt to create conflict and make light of the efforts of activists locally and nationally.”
Other White Student Unions on Facebook, which seem to have been established largely in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, are associated with the University of Texas, Austin, Louisiana State University, New York University, and Washington State University, to name a few.
One commonality among many of the groups is the description in the about section. It’s one that says the group was created as a “safe space to support and promote the interests of students of European descent.”
Before being taken down, the White Student Union for UC Berkeley was said to have been established to “unapologetically provide a safe space for white students to air their true feelings about the future of our nation,” among other things. Here’s more from the White Student Union UCLA mission statement:
We unapologetically provide a creative space for white bodies to construct-deconstruct whiteness, to discuss and reflect upon the lessons laid down for us by our forefathers, and to develop a positive program to restore the pioneering will and greatness of European heritage while being mindful and respectful of other identities that whites and nonwhites alike espouse.
We affirm the dignity and ancestry of our proud people who have gifted the world with countless works of beauty, science, and wisdom, and are committed to promoting a dialogue and political resistance that will secure a future for our posterity and spirit.
At the same time, we do not wish to denigrate or harm any other group or ethnicity.
We wish to construct a fluid, dynamic pro-white identity while working together with other identity groups on campus. That is to say, we wish to construct a distinct but not exclusive white-European identity that is white/European while at the same time being aware and respectful of other non-exclusive constructions of identities other than white/European.
We seek to honor our past while promoting a positive, peaceful vision of the future; one in which fluid identities empower all bodies to organize and represent themselves and pursue their authentic selves.
The Illinois White Student Union, which appears to have been one of the first, was shut down on Facebook a few days ago, but has since been resurrected.
University of Illinois spokeswoman Robin Kaler said in a statement last week that the page was “disturbing and cowardly.” She continued that despite Facebook being responsive to the university’s requests for the page be removed, it continues to be reposted.
These White Student Union accounts are fake—or at least, the on-campus clubs they claim to represent are. Racist trolls from message boards 4chan and 8chan, and the white supremacist website Daily Stormer, fabricated the Facebook pages in an attempt to create racial tension on college campuses.
The Washington Post has more from the perspective of a man who has been advocating for the formation of such groups:
Andrew Anglin, who runs the blog the Daily Stormer, which has been described as a “neo-Nazi website,” wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Post that he has been encouraging the formation of such groups for years, though he denies being directly involved with their sudden rise over the weekend.
While many have called the people behind the Facebook groups “trolls,” Anglin’s e-mail betrayed not a trace of irony about their mandates.
“Whites need to organize and protect their interests in the face of rising Black terrorism,” he wrote. “The goal of a White Student Union would be to push back against this, and also to show Whites across the country that it is okay to be White, it is okay to defend your history and your civilization.”
Anglin’s e-mail is riddled with racist invective against “Blacks,” including a claim that letting African Americans into universities is “charity.”
The uptick in the creation of these White Student Unions comes at a time when the issue of racism has become a hot topic on college campuses, but, White Student Unions are not an entirely new concept.
According to Facebook’s community standards, it reserves the right to remove “hate speech,” which it notes “includes content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin,” and more.
University administrators asking that White Student Union pages be removed from Facebook, like the University of Illinois, contend that they violate both Facebook’s standards and the university’s trademark rights, the Daily Illini reported.
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