UT president calls for town hall after anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim fliers found on campus

Click here to view this article on the Statesman – February 20, 2017

University of Texas President Gregory Fenves has called for atown hall meeting to discuss the overall mood and social climate on campus following the appearance of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant posters on and near university grounds last week.

The town hall meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the Student Activity Center, one of the buildings in which a flier was posted on. Sonica Reagins-Lilly, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, Maurie McInnis, provost, Vincent, and Fenves will all be at the meeting to answer questions and listen to the UT community.

Last Monday, fliers were found posted on several campus buildings and on a utility pole, some of which said: “Imagine a Muslim-free America” and “A notice to all citizens of the United States of America, it is your civic duty to report and and all illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement—they have broken the law.”

Some of the fliers were posted by American Vanguard, a white supremacist organization that it not affiliated with the university.

In response, the university released a statement —which has since been updated — saying that organizations or people outside the UT community are not allowed to post content on university buildings.

“Any message that’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-Semitic or of any similar belief doesn’t belong on our campus and I don’t believe it belongs in American society,” Fenves told the Texas Standard in an interview Thursday.

This afternoon Fenves emailed the UT community to further address the issue.

“Last week, an organization unaffiliated with UT posted signs that directly targeted immigrants and minorities,” Fenves said in the email. “The words and ideas contained within these posters were hateful, divisive and deeply offensive to me and to many members of our community. Their message runs counter to the values of our university and our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

“Posters from non-UT organizations, including the ones we saw last week, are not allowed under our rules and will be taken down,” he added. “They have no place on the Forty Acres. As a university community, it is up to all of us to define a culture that protects the right to free speech and supports our right to learn, teach and work in an inclusive environment.”

In the updated statement, Gregory Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, said it’s still unclear whether the signs were posted by members of the university. He said further sightings of such posters or harassment incidents can be reported to the Campus Climate Response Team.

“To ensure the safety and the rights of everyone on this campus, we must join together so that we can openly and intelligently engage in robust discussions and debate,” Vincent said in the statement.

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