SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – For the second time in four months, Salt Lake Community College administration received reports of white supremacist propaganda on their campuses.
In a statement to ABC4 News Tuesday, school officials said ‘community members reported that unauthorized postings containing content counter to the college’s values were placed in front of SLCC’s South City Campus’ on Sunday.
Joy Tlou, Director of SLCC Public Relations, said additional postings were found at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus and all unauthorized postings were removed. He stated a vandalism report was filed with Utah Highway Patrol and the Department of Public Safety and is currently being investigated.
SLCC President Deneece G. Huftalin issued the following statement to the college on this incident:
“We are aware of two incidents of vandalism over the weekend on the South City and Taylorsville Redwood campuses. Please be aware that we will always take appropriate steps to keep such incidents from disrupting our campuses as we continue to create and maintain a welcoming, inclusive environment conducive to student learning and success.”
The Anti-Defamation League said propaganda can be flyers, stickers, book inserts, banners, or any form to get a group’s name and message out into the community and media.
“White supremacist groups believe there is a need for whites to live separately. If they’re living in a society where there are not only whites, they want to dominate that society,” said ADL Regional Director Seth Brysk. “There’s a belief in the superiority of what they term as ‘white culture’ or whites genetically over other groups.”
Sunday’s incident is part of nearly a dozen reports in Utah recorded by the Anti-Defamation League. Last year, ADL reported 24 incidents. Experts said they’re seeing an increase in white supremacist propaganda in and around a college campus, with a 7 percent increase last academic year and a 77 percent increase the year before.
“They’ve really ramped up their efforts to try and recruit and try to expose themselves to young adults – people who are just now forming aspects of their identity and forming their opinions about the world,” said Brysk. “Any movement is going to benefit from the recruitment of new leadership, new blood, new membership.”
Brysk said Utah is the third highest state in the number of white supremacist recruitment incidents that ADL has tracked over the last year, following California and Kentucky.
“The increase in these incidents, some it of it dates back to the presidential campaign of 2016. There was coarsening of the debate. There was sort of a sense among these extremist groups that this was a time for them to expose themselves more widely, more publicly,” said Brysk. “They tended to take certain signals from some of the rhetoric of the campaign and thought that this was a moment for them to try and become more mainstream.”
Experts said white supremacist groups often cloak themselves in patriotic message. The most recent incident at SLCC targeted undocumented immigrants in messages printed in red, white, and blue.
“They are very careful about what they say and how they say. They even use patriotism, America, within the names of their groups. They talk about issues that are would ordinarily seem like legitimate points of debate,” he said. “They use these as sort of an entry point before they expose people to their more radical program, their bigoted program and the types of things that they really stand for.”
So what should someone do when encountering white supremacist propaganda on campus? Brysk recommended reporting it to school administration immediately.
“These are not necessarily issues of free speech. Campuses are often private institutions. They have rules and regulations about how information can be disseminated on campus and in many instances, this is in violation of that,” he said.