On Dec. 16 — a day after D-Term students and faculty checked out of residence halls and North Central locked up for Christmas break — Campus Safety officers found a white piece of paper promoting the “alt-right” taped to the brick exterior of Schneller Hall.
The top of the flyers addressed “white people,” and espoused the alt-right’s rhetoric, stating “diversity means less white,” among other white nationalist ideas. The flyer also featured links to websites such as the Radix Journal, founded by alt-right leader Richard Spencer, and the racist neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer.
Campus Safety removed the signs and subsequently took down additional signs posted outside of Wentz Science Center, Seager, Schneller, Kaufman, Business Center and WAC. It’s unknown who distributed the flyers, but research from North Central’s Bias Incident Response Team found they are the same exact signs as alt-right flyers found in South Carolina at Clemson University in October of 2017. Similar white supremacist and alt-right posters have been found on campuses across America and in Canada this past fall.
The College responded by issuing an internal email condemning the flyers on Jan. 10, writing that the postings were “disturbing, problematic, and not aligned with the College’s Core Values.” On Friday, Jan. 12, North Central hosted a Fireside Chat for students, faculty and campus community members to discuss the incident.
Dr. Steve Macek, chair of the department of communication and media studies, commented that flyers like the ones found at NCC may be more difficult to swiftly take down at a public college, due to First Amendment and academic freedom implications. However, because North Central is private, simply the violation of the College’s posting policy, aside from the flyer’s content and the school’s Core Values statement, would likely be enough to warrant its removal from college grounds.
Dean of Students Kevin McCarthy added, in a comment after the Fireside Chat, that the conversation may pertain to a more complex free speech issue if a student wanted to put up a non-violent, but controversial flyer. If they went through the correct channels and didn’t espouse hate or violence, while fully owning their ideas, the school may have to take a closer look at the situation.
This is the first case of white nationalist propaganda surfacing at not only North Central, but at any Illinois college. “We are a diverse, inclusive and global community,” reads the school’s “Core Values” reiterated in the email response to all NCC students. “We will continue to stand,” says McCarthy in the email, “against racism, bigotry and hate.”