By Jillian Baker
“Identity Evropa poster found on campus, Photo by Justin Sweitzer, The Keystone
KU President Kenneth Hawkinson announced plans to create a task force which addresses hate speech on campus in the 2017 State of the University Address.
In February, posters created by Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group, surfaced around campus. The alt-right organization is not affiliated with KU.
The Keystone previously reported on the emergence of these posters which displayed slogans saying “Let’s Become Great Again,” “Serve Your People” and “Protect Your Heritage.”
Hawkinson said, “As a result of these incidents, and other situations, I am creating a task force consisting of faculty, staff, community and student leaders to establish protocols on how to address these situations.”
“While we must keep in mind that all individuals have the right to free speech on our campus, our university rejects all forms of racism, bigotry and discrimination. We reject the sentiments of neo-Nazis, the KKK and all other groups that espouse values of hate. We reject all forms of violence.”
“The members of this task force will consist of leaders of many of our governance groups, and experts in the topics under discussion. Understanding the wide boundaries our first amendment provides to our citizens, there are actions we can take to ensure that our university is defined by our values – not the values of outside groups,” said Hawkinson.
KU Student Government Board President Molly Gallagher joined with over 100 other Student Body Presidents in a declaration against hate speech. She said, “I stand with 100+ Student Body Presidents from across the United States who will not stand for racism, violence, white supremacy, bigotry and hate on our campuses. As JFK said, ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’”
Hawkinson said he will be announcing protocols to be followed instances of hateful rhetoric in the upcoming months. He asked students to report back to the Dean of Students Office at firstname.lastname@example.org if they see anything on campus that is against KU’s values.