Students at an American university have sparked anger after reportedly forming a white student union to counter what they describe as “terrorism” from black students.
Amid ongoing racial tensions across US and Canadian campuses, a Facebook page entitled ‘Illini White Student Union’ (IWSU) surfaced - saying it sought to “organise against the terrorism we have been facing from Black Lives Matter activists on campus.”
Standing with Her (SWH) - a movement at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC), which says it stands with black women to “keep racist colleges and universities accountable” - wrote an open letter to administrators in the aftermath of a national day of staff and student action called the Student BlackOut.
It urged staff to take action over the apparent formation of the IWSU.
This week’s national day of action saw thousands of faculty members and students from across both countries stand in solidarity with students of colour, particularly the black students of the University of Missouri (Mizzou), which has recently been the focal point of race rows that saw its president, Tim Wolfe, resign.
But according to the open letter, the IWSU told its members: “Feel free to send in pictures you take of any black protestors on the quad so we know who anti-whites are.”
SWH also expressed concern after, it said, the IWSU posted the details of a black female student who spoke out against their Facebook page.
Citing quotes from university emails - which acknowledge how “black students at UIUC are at risk” - SWH urged staff to partner with them in order to “address [the] anti-black terror now occurring on campus.”
The IWSU page was removed from Facebook after it was brought to the attention of the university’s administrators. Some reports, however, have suggested that the mage has not been completely removed and is, instead, being moderated by Facebook.
According to the university’s student newspaper, The Daily Illini, vice-chancellor of student affairs, Rene Romano issued a statement describing how administrators have notified Facebook of the page, asking for its removal because it “violates the company’s own standards.”
Ms Romano said: “We also are reaching out directly to those responsible for the postings, notifying them that the usage of our name is in violation of our trademark rights and ordering them to cease and desist.”
Despite denouncing the content on the Facebook page, The Daily Ilini reported that campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler cited “the creator’s first amendment rights” and said that, if the creator of the page is a UIUC student, the university “will not take any actions against them.”