Oakton Community College president Joianne Smith recently sent an email to students asking them to “choose inclusiveness over divisiveness” after flyers affiliated with a White supremacist group were found on the college’s Des Plaines campus.
In her email, Smith invited the Oakton community to “have honest discussions about difficult subjects” and speak out against hate following the reported flyers placed on campus by a “known neo-Nazi and White supremacist group.”
She continued: “While we uphold the value of freedom of speech and expression, as a college community we can also choose to reject hate speech and provide personal support for one another.”
The flyers were discovered by students on Feb. 20 in the Margaret Burke Lee Science and Health Careers Center and were submitted to Oakton police, who informed school administration, director of college relations Paul Palian said.
The two flyers found were affiliated with the group Identity Evropa, identified by the Anti-Defamation League as a White Supremacist group and by the Southern Poverty Law Center as having a “White nationalist” ideology.
Under the group’s name on the flyer contained the message “European roots, American greatness,” Palin said.
The flyers did not provide any other messages, Palin said.
The group, whose members refer it as an “American Identitarian organization,” placed a large banner on an Interstate 290 overpass in Oak Park last year in protest of Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Oakton’s Diversity Council recently in response to the flyers to determine ways to best respond to the flyers appearing on campus and to emphasize the diversity that currently exists within the Oakton community, the council’s chairwomen Camille Harrison said.
Some ideas discussed include a public discussion and posters highlighting diversity, though no final decisions were made, Harrison added.
“We [also] want to protect the students who are easily influenced by those flyers,” Harrison added.