WSU aiming for civil discussions in response to racist flyers found on campus

Sunday , November 19, 2017 - 5:00 AM7 comments

JACOB SCHOLL, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — For the second time this semester at Weber State University, someone has posted controversial flyers on campus. 

The newest posters, found earlier this month, say “It’s okay to be white.” Earlier flyers, posted around campus in August, promoted white nationalism and racism. 

Despite these incidents, university officials are remaining optimistic that the recent racially-charged signage found around campus will only further constructive conversations on such topics. 

Allison Barlow Hess, a spokeswoman for WSU, said the university is a place for free speech, but the college also needs to maintain a welcoming environment. 

Hess said the university has had 18 months of consistent conversations on race, which is the overall goal: to start “open, robust conversations where we listen and speak to other people.”

RELATED: Weber State student Dems and Republicans agree talking is key in coming school year

Adrienne Andrews, chief diversity officer for Weber State, said everyone needs to be mindful of the material that comes onto campus and having a dialogue is key for understanding topics like race and civility. 

The topic of civility is one that the campus has spent much of the semester discussing, as it is the main topic for this year’s Engaged Learning Series. The ELS consists of events that take place throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, and it has been a yearly series that sees a new topic every year. 

Both Hess and Andrews cited this series as an opportunity for students and members of the community to share their ideas and learn about the perspectives of others. 

In addition to the ELS, Andrews cited a town hall event held Thursday, Nov. 16, as another example of the university’s willingness to facilitate conversations and create dialogue among the community. 

In both cases, the controversial flyers were removed because they were either taped over existing posters or onto glass, which is a violation of school policy, Hess said.

Events like ELS help fill the void of context that is created by things like the quickly-removed signs being posted anonymously around campus.  

“It’s unfortunate the signs were placed without context,” Andrews said. “There’s no one to have a dialogue with.”

Contact reporter Jacob Scholl at jscholl@standard.net or follow him on Twitter @Jacob_Scholl.

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