Racism on campus: WSU students worry for their safety

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OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – Weber State University students believe a group may be promoting white supremacy on campus. This comes after an individual posted flyers on campus that read: “It’s okay to be white.” Now, the university is asking the public for help identifying the suspect, and students are asking university administrators to take their safety more seriously.   

“It essentially just made me feel really unsafe,” WSU student Terri Hughes said.   

 “I felt unsafe and mad,” stated WSU student Tahja Lee.   

“I was honestly super upset,” WSU student Shawnica Sanders emphasized.   

 “I was really mad that this happened here,” WSU student Raha Davis explained.  

 “I was extremely emotional,” recounted WSU student Enallia Brooks. 

 “This isn’t the first time this happened and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last,” said WSU student Brittany Washington. 

According to Weber State University: “On Monday (Nov. 1) morning, two hand-written flyers containing the message “It’s Okay to Be White” were taped on the north and south entry doors of the Shepherd Union Building. The letters “IOTBW” were also spelled out in duct tape on the western exterior of the union. The flyers were removed as soon as they were discovered. Facilities Management scanned the rest of campus but found no additional flyers.” 

 “In general terms that sounds okay,” Shawnica Sanders told ABC4. “‘It’s okay to be white’ but that’s an invitation for people who are unaware of that white supremacist group.” To which Brittany Washington added, “And I think that kind of puts a fear in us, especially being a B.I.P.O.C. person.” Terri Hughes concluded: “And we don’t want to fear having to walking to our car late at night, or walking to our dorms, or to our vehicles, or anything like that.”  

Students told ABC4 that not only do they worry about their safety, but they’re angry with administrators who they say did not notify the student body of the flyers until later in the week.   

In a statement to ABC4, the university responded: “We condemn the actions of those responsible for these flyers. At Weber State, we value every individual. We strive to create an environment where everyone is welcome and has a safe space to pursue their goals academically and in life.”  

Right now, students and community leaders are calling on the school to do more. “Intentionally and deliberately address this and get to the root causes of what’s going on,” stated NAACP Ogden Branch President Betty Sawyer. “If we don’t hold people accountable, then things (won’t) change.”  

 “This university needs to clean up this behavior right now,” Shawnica Sanders boldly declared.   

“I want to feel safe here and I want to fee protected because a lot of things are said but they’re not done,” international student Maddie Kalunga told ABC4.   

“And we want equity,” emphasized Raha Davis.   

The school says it’s working on finding this suspect: “Inappropriately posting flyers or other materials in this way amounts to criminal mischief, which WSU campus police investigates fully.” The university requested the public’s help: “Campus Police would appreciate help getting word to the public. If anyone has information, they can call 801-626-6460 or email wsupd@weber.edu.” 

 For now, those affected want the community to understand why something like a flyer can cut so deep. “Those tropes and kinds of slogans have been used to scare us, to terrify us, to intimidate us throughout history, so we do take those things very seriously,” explained Betty Sawyer.   

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