Stickers promoting white nationalism and racism shocked many students when they were seen around Main Campus late last week, spurring a conversation about race among Temple students and an investigation by Temple Police.
The stickers featured the logo of a Pennsylvania “skinhead” organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has characterized as an extremist hate group. The group’s Twitter account featured photos of the stickers after they were posted around Main Campus. Several students commented on a Facebook post that included the pictures.
To minimize the spread of hate speech, The Temple News is not naming the group that created the stickers.
Charlie Leone, the executive director of Campus Safety Services, wrote in an email that Temple Student Government alerted Temple Police about the stickers on Thursday night. He said detectives checked Main Campus on Friday and found one sticker near Annenberg Hall, which they removed.
Several university organizations released statements on social media about the messages conveyed in the stickers.
“TSG is aware of recent instances of hateful stickers being placed around campus and condemns this as against the values Temple University holds dear,” TSG tweeted on March 24, the day after the pictures of the stickers surfaced on Facebook. “We are in contact with administration regarding this and will continue to provide a welcoming environment to all students.”
Activate TU and Connecting TU, the teams running to lead TSG next year, both issued statements condemning the distribution and message of the stickers.
The Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership also issued a statement on Friday from Nu’Rodney Prad, the office’s director of student engagement, saying that it “does not support nor condone this type of rhetoric as it can impact those with marginalized identities.”
Leone wrote that TUPD has also been in contact with the Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights anti-Semitism and hate speech.
On Monday, Leone told The Temple News that TUPD is looking through surveillance footage from the past several weeks to attempt to identify the individual who placed the stickers, one of which was near the grassy area between Beury Hall and the Biology Life Sciences Building. Leone said a student removed two stickers “of their own accord, which was good.”
“Our priority is to figure out who did this,” he said. “If it’s a student, they could be facing a [Student Code of Conduct] violation.”
Whoever posted the stickers could also face charges of graffiti or vandalism, he said.
Hannah Larocca, a sophomore media studies and production major, shared photos of the stickers and tagged the university’s official Facebook page because she believed it was important to make people aware of the group’s presence on Main Campus.
“Especially Temple, which is in a location that is not only occupied by predominantly people of color, the community members, but a lot of our students are of color as well … when there’s all of these people who are being targeted by this essentially hate group, I feel like it’s important for people to know that those people are around,” she said.
Larocca’s post was shared more than 50 times and she said the response was mostly from people who were just as angry as she was about the stickers.
“A lot of people were taking issue with the fact that I apparently sanctioned violence against them and were making the argument that they are entitled to free speech,” she said. “They don’t deserve a platform. … Free speech means that you can say what you want without fear of incarceration, not that you’re free from getting punched in the face for being a Nazi.”
Larocca added that the post was not meant to be about “hating white people” but instead, white supremacy.
“It makes me just angry … it’s not even insulting, I see this and it reminds me of the people who are out there who are looking to hurt people who don’t look like them,” she said. “To see this kind of hate on display toward members of the community that are of color and students of color just makes me burn to my core, honestly.”
Julie Christie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChristieJules.