Racists probably started a white student union at your school. They’re all fake.
Over the weekend, multiple reports surfaced of the creation of white student unions at college campuses across the US and Canada. On the surface, it seems that they were created by students from the university — misguided at best, white supremacists at worst — but it is more likely that these Facebook pages were created by an organized group of trolls who wish to spread their propaganda while getting the maximum amount of lulz they can get.
The movement most likely started on Wednesday, November 18, with the creation of a White Student Union page for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was quickly shut down, as The Daily Illini reports, but not without being noticed by the white supremacist community.
On November 21, Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer, a news site described by The New York Times as “a neo-Nazi mixture of message boards and sarcastic commentary,” published a blog post criticizing the reaction of the UIUC administration. At the bottom, Anglin encourages his readers to create more “White Student Unions” that only exist through social media:
At the same time, white supremacists with large Twitter followings began calling for the same thing.
Within the next few days, over thirty of these white student union Facebook pages, from Princeton to Penn State, Florida to Fullerton, were created.
In fact, they were created so quickly that the people behind them can’t create a consistent backstory. In an interview, the alleged founder of the NYU student union claims that there is no centralized organization behind this new crop of white student unions, but on November 22 the Penn State White Student Union celebrated becoming sanctioned by a non-existent umbrella organization for white student unions, the NAESA.
And at universities that don’t seem to have any association with one another, white student unions have been created with the exact same statement of purpose.
What can you do?
Report these pages to campus administration. Although Facebook is not required to take down “offensive” content, it’s more than likely that your university is less than pleased to be associated with racist propaganda. Google your university’s trademarks office and tell them that a non-registered student organization is using the university name unlawfully. Unfortunately, universities work slowly (as we’ve seen these past few weeks at Mizzou and others), but the more people who report these pages, the more likely a quick response will come.
Listen to your fellow students of color. Use this as a constructive opportunity to make your university’s campus more inclusive. Seek out your university’s black student association, Asian student association, etc. and listen to what concerns they have.
Troll the trolls. Drown white supremacist hate with dumb Vines. Blanket their Facebook walls with cat videos. Whatever you do, don’t add fuel to the fire — no constructive discussion is going to happen by engaging with trolls.
An incomplete list of White Student Unions can be found here.
Update 11/23: Penn State, University of British Columbia, and the UC Berkeley Student Union have issued statements regarding their respective white student unions. The Penn State and Berkeley pages were taken down, while the UBC one remains up.