Around the time of the midterm elections, various white supremacist flyers were posted around campus, specifically around the College of Education in University Hall.
“All I know is that there were flyers, ‘White Lives Matter’ and ‘It’s OK to be White,’ and a third that I am not sure of, that were put up on bulletin boards and under the doors of faculty who have nonwestern names,” said Rich Wolfson, union president of 1904.
Various members of the faculty were upset about this and wanted the flyers to be addressed.
Tamara Lucas, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, made a statement to her fellow colleagues:
“Some unauthorized flyers have been posted in University Hall and across campus today that are likely intended to promote division among us,” Lucas said. “We in the College of Education and Human Services value and respect human diversity of all sorts, and we stand together against any form of bias and bigotry. Let Assistant Dean Chris Conzen know if you see anything contrary to our stance in that regard.”
Wolfson brought up the matter at the University Senate meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 28, asking for resolution on the issue.
“The people on my floor were really spooked by this,” Wolfson said.
Willard Gingerich, provost and vice president for academic affairs, pointed out that this is not unique to Montclair, and that it could be counterproductive to bring attention to these incidents.
“How much do you want to bring attention to the act itself, by making a universal statement?” Gingerich said. “You, in fact, give it a certain amount of credibility.”
According to University Police Capt. Kieran Barrett, Montclair State and other college campuses across New Jersey and the nation faced several incidents of political and social propaganda around the midterm elections.
William Paterson is one of these universities and others include college campuses in Vermont, Colorado, Delaware and North Carolina. It is linked with online trolling, white supremacist groups and posts on 4chan. The goal is to provoke and anger others with these simplistic flyers.
“While there was a slight increase in posted material, there was not an increase in criminal vandalism, such as spray paint, damage to property or bias incidents,” Barrett said.
The incident was investigated by Montclair State police.
“We respond to the incident to investigate, alert university administration and share information with our federal and state partners in law enforcement for tracking,” Barrett said. “In addition, if the posting were to be threatening violence, we would take needed precautions to safeguard the community.”
Barrett discussed what should be done going forward.
“The best prevention is to keep a watchful eye, understand that this is an open campus where we are free to discuss matters,” Barrett said. “Understand that the perpetrator is looking for a response and waiting to go unnoticed to do damage and to always know we are here to help and keep those responsible accountable for their actions.”
No resolution was reached by the Senate on this issue. However, they will invite the administration to address it at the next Senate meeting.