An anonymous Facebook page created early in the week at the University of Illinois may have been among the first White Student Union pages to pop up, but it’s hardly been the last.
Appearing at Illinois after black students held a rally Wednesday, the page reportedly characterized the Black Lives Matter movement as an act of “terrorism” and called for the monitoring of African-American students who attended the protest, leaving many feeling unsafe at the Urbana-Champaign campus.
Now, as unconfirmed reports – including an anonymous report from Medium — blame the postings on either a white supremacist group or 4Chan users, more than 30 white student union Facebook pages, claiming to represent real college organizations, have been posted. Some schools are quickly distancing themselves — and petitioning Facebook to take them down.
Schools affected include George Washington University, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, Swarthmore College, the University of Mississippi, Ohio State University, New York University and the University of Texas – Austin.
Officials at George Washington University, where a white student union page was created on Sunday, condemned the page in a Facebook post published Monday afternoon and encouraged universities to report their pages to the social media giant.
“Other universities around the country have seen similar pages being created in the last week in what appears to be an orchestrated effort. Many have already spoken out against the vitriol and we are asking that the other universities (tagged below) join us in asking Facebook to delete these pages, which are being used for harassment and intimidation,” the post reads.
NYU Director of Public Affairs Matt Nagel told the New York Daily News that the group has used the NYU logo “illegally and without permission, and we have contacted Facebook to demand the NYU logo be removed. We reject — and we call on others to reject — efforts such as this to derail or distort candid, thoughtful discourse on race.”
A spokesperson for Facebook told USA TODAY College that it has deleted some white student union pages created by fake Facebook accounts, which violates its community standards, but that others can not be deleted as they don’t violate community standards, including pages publishing content that “directly attacks people based on their race.”
The pages contain messages and comments like, “We unapologetically provide a safe space for white students to air their true feelings about the future of our nation … at the same time, we do not wish to denigrate or harm any other group or ethnicity.”
Morgan Baskin is a student at George Washington University and a USA TODAY College intern.