Students seek guidance to make campus inhospitable for white supremacy

Brooke Sjoberg

A diverse room of students discussed on Wednesday afternoon how to make college campuses inhospitable to white supremacy with George Ciccariello-Maher, associate professor of global studies and modern languages at Drexel University.

UT has recently experienced acts of white supremacy on campus, such as a protest on the South Mall in November and posters advertising white pride and anti-Muslim ideals in the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017. Ciccariello-Maher said action, more than words, will be what makes college campuses safe from white supremacy.

“Students need to organize to deplatform these speakers, and they need to organize to establish structures for organizations, networks and alliances that will allow them to defend campus from the right,” Ciccariello-Maher said. “It’s not just speakers. It’s these far-right groups that are showing up on campus to recruit.”

Ciccariello-Maher said universities hosting controversial public speakers on campus is problematic because the far right doesn’t practice free speech. He said racist views held by much of the fascist right implies that some people and their voices are worth more than others, therefore discrediting the idea of free speech.

As a result of his outspoken dismissal of white supremacy and subsequent threats from white supremacists, Ciccariello-Maher is on involuntary administrative leave from Drexel University since October 2017 specifically due to controversial tweets.

Business freshman Shaan Lashari said white supremacist activity on campus makes him feel uncomfortable.

“It’s not even the fact that I’m not white,” Lashari said. “It’s that ideologies that certain people are more valuable than other people just makes me uncomfortable. … Once you start bringing in ideas like ‘a certain race of people is better than others,’ I think that crosses a line where those types of speech should not be tolerated.”

Charles Holm, African and African diaspora studies graduate student, said government and campus policies contribute to non-white students feeling unsafe on campus.

“Trump’s Muslim ban recently jeopardized the safety of over a hundred international students here on campus, and it was just held up as constitutional by the Supreme Court,” Holm said. “We have a law here in Texas, SB 4, that allows campus police to essentially deputize and act as federal immigration law enforcement officers, and ongoing police brutality and racism, especially against African Americans, endangers people on and off campus.”