Officials at East Tennessee State University have opted to launch an investigation after flyers stating “It’s okay to be white” were found posted over a memorial to its first African American students and all over its campus.
“In the early hours of Friday, November 1, racist flyers were placed on multiple buildings and locations across our campus. These flyers were identical to those placed on college campuses across the country by white supremacist groups in an attempt to seed division and discord,” school president Brian Noland wrote in a statement Monday.
“In an act of vandalism, flyers were placed on Borchuck Plaza over the memorial plaques of those five pioneering individuals who desegregated our institutions during the 1950s. It is clear that the posting and placement of these flyers was an attempt to create division in our community and I am disgusted by this act,” Noland continued.
Noland also confirmed that university officials immediately removed the flyers and opened an “active investigation.”
— James Payne (@JAPayneMemphis) November 5, 2019
According to NBC News, this past Friday marked the start of a weekend when historically black fraternities and sororities were set to be honored on the campus leading some to speculate this was an intentional response to that.
The Anti-Defamation League reports that the seemingly benign phrase “It’s okay to be white” was adopted by white supremacist groups after being popularized on 4chan, a platform that has frequently been criticized for allowing white supremacist ideologies online.
NBC News reports that the signs were also posted at the University of Vermont and Champlain College in October of last year and at Tufts University later in 2018. Similar signs have also recently been either posted or emailed in California, Connecticut, and Oklahoma.