Posters highlight racial tensions


Brandon Arcari, Breaking News Assistant Editor

White pieces of printer paper featuring the phrase “It’s ok to be white” were taped up around campus Nov. 7 by an unknown party.

The posters, which were affixed to police blue lights, streetlamps and doors, all read the same thing before most were removed by 7 a.m. that day.

“It appears that the signs were posted as part of a national effort. They were removed because they were posted in violation of University posting policy,” stated UVM communications director Enrique Corredera in a Nov. 7 email.

The signs, created as part of an online campaign to sow social unrest, have been spotted at college campuses across the country, including Tulane University in New Orleans, and in the Harvard Yard in Cambridge, according to a Nov. 3 Washington Post article.

The campaign seeks to get people to stop believing in the news media, and therefore convert them to the side of those who created the campaign; the “alt-right,” according to the Post.

Signs were also posted at UC Berkeley on Nov. 3, according to The Daily Californian.

“To the extent that the signs were intended to promote a white nationalist ideology, as news reports have suggested, we condemn the activity in the strongest possible terms, as it is completely antithetical to our core University values,” Corredera stated in the email.

The poster can be interpreted as an attempt at promoting white supremacy, according to the Post article. The poster’s seeming harmlessness would be a defense to accusations of racism.

Posting the posters around college campuses would demonstrate the news media’s supposed anti-white bias, according to the Post.

Senior Siobhan Murray works at the Davis Center as a Building Manager and did not know about the signs until she was informed by her boss.

“Building managers are instructed to take down posters that are not on the bulletin boards on the first three floors,” she said, “from my understanding most were on the bulletin boards so the building manager team did not have any participation in taking them down (to my knowledge).”

The Davis Center had several signs posted around it, including on the door by the Cynic office and on streetlamps and blue lights.

“While obviously it’s okay to be white, the signs are stupid and at most slightly insensitive. The person doing this was probably just trying to get a reaction out of people or trying to be funny,” first-year Jace LaQuerre said. “Reading too much into harmless signs with a redundant message would be silly.”

Student leaders of diversity groups did not wish to comment at time of publication, though they held a meeting to discuss the posters. No collective comment was provided to the Cynic.

The signs went up following weeks of earlier action by student groups on campus regarding calls for greater diversity, equity and inclusion.

The march on Waterman held on Sept. 25 by members of diversity groups on campus, served a list of demands to the University led to a racial diversity inclusion forum and meetings with University President Tom Sullivan.

Students also protested by taping signs to the doors of the executive wing of Waterman over a perceived failure to meet the demands.

One of the demands called for the expulsion of JT Reichelm, who stole a Black Lives Matter flag put up on the flagpole near the Davis Center.

Reichelm was subjected to University disciplinary action, and so could not be held accountable again for the same offense, according to a Sept. 29 email to students from University administrators.

These signs also follow the recent arrest of continuing education student Wesley Richter regarding threats made about black students on campus. Richter is still awaiting VT District Court Judge Fenster’s ruling on probable cause.