University must respond more effectively to hate groups

On Nov. 1, a table was set up outside of the McCarthy Center. Individuals handed out flyers, buttons, and leaflets. 

The solicitors were reported to University Police by a student, but the police report did not name the organization that was trespassing on our campus or what it represents.

A Gatepost staff member identified the group as Turning Point USA, an organization promoting conservative values with a history of bigoted and hate speech, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New England.

On Nov. 3, two white supremacist-related decals were found on lamp posts outside the McCarthy Center by students. The decals promoted the Patriot Front group, which “spreads their hateful propaganda via the Internet and by distributing banners, flyers, posters, and stickers,” according to the ADL.

University Police are still investigating the incident.

On Nov. 4, President F. Javier Cevallos sent out an email informing the community of the decals.

This email contained no call to action and no resources for students and employees.

We are concerned University Police are not following the right steps to identify non-Framingham State groups and organizations when they come on campus.

Additionally, some of these groups that solicit on our campus are spreading hateful propaganda, and need to be stopped.

The FSU administration needs to respond to student concerns about safety on campus.

The administration should not have to rely solely on students to uncover the truth about hate groups and their propaganda when they appear on our campus.

When we examine the timeline of last week’s incidents, it is clear the University’s response to extremist propaganda on and near our campus fell short of our community’s expectations.

The Gatepost has some suggestions of ways University Police and the administration could better support the campus community. 

First, increase foot patrols and security camera usage by University Police.

Officers should take more detailed reports when encountering unfamiliar groups soliciting without permission – ask and document the who, what, when, where, and why.

If they’re having trouble searching through security camera footage of public spaces, hire students or set up a volunteer program to monitor the cameras.

Someone should monitor cameras throughout the day so an officer can be dispatched before perpetrators leave campus.

The University Police Safety Bulletin has not been updated since February 2019, when over half of The Gatepost’s staff members were still in high school. Since that time, multiple instances of racism and other crimes have occurred on campus, including these most recent incidents last week. 

Students and employees would benefit from having consistent communication detailing instances of crime on campus. What else has happened that we were not informed of because this bulletin hasn’t been updated?

We wouldn’t know.

During the forum held in the Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) Nov. 10 to respond to last week’s incidents, Cevallos said our campus is open to anyone walking by and “it’s very hard to prevent something from happening.”

While our campus must remain open, it is possible to deter extremist groups from spreading propaganda on our campus by speeding up University Police’s response to individuals and groups that do not have permission to be on campus.

Furthermore, the administration should respond more quickly to FSU community members’ concerns after incidents like those that occurred last week.

Forums for discussion and safe spaces should be made available within 48 hours. 

We thank Eric Nguyen, director of the CIE, for creating a safe space the following day for students to come and discuss the decals that were found. 

We also thank the Education Department for hosting its faculty processing space Nov. 5 – two days following the incident. 

However, information about these events and invitations to emulate them were not widely disseminated. Isn’t diversity and inclusion work supposed to be happening in every corner of our campus?

News and statements about hate crimes or racial bias incidents should be issued within 24 hours, whether through email or social media.

These communications should include a call to action for the University and a list of available resources for the community.

Unless University Police respond appropriately when hate groups are discovered on campus and the administration takes action to respond more quickly and effectively when incidents perpetrated by hate groups occur, perpetrators will never be apprehended or held accountable, and our community will never be able to heal.