Political leaders on campus have been met with a difficult challenge as the fall semester begins. An uptick in politically charged posters and fliers on campus, including white supremacist and anti-fascist messages, have earned response from club leaders and student government.
The posters and fliers, which were discovered as students returned to the Tempe campus in August, tackled the credibility of professors by labeling them as cultural Marxists whose goals were to subject white students to “second-class citizenship.”
Another set of signs was found draped over University Bridge, stating “NAZI SCUM YOUR TIME WILL COME.” The signs stated that “ANTIFASCISTS” stood with Charlottesville.
University officials removed the fliers, but many students still feel campus is affected by overflow from national tensions.
Kelsey Wilson, vice president of policy for Tempe Undergraduate Student Government, said that although USG is a nonpartisan organization, it has a goal of allowing students to express their voice responsibly.
“As millennials you need your voice heard. … It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum you fall on, you’re able to express what you believe,” Wilson said.
TUSG Senate President Breonn Peoples said the USG Senate would soon introduce a bill to promise students that TUSG is doing everything in it’s power to include all students on campus.
Zak Ghali, president of ASU Young Democrats, said the fliers and posters did harm to the political dialogue on campus and that he was disgusted any member of the student body would advocate for white supremacy.
“If there was ever going to be dialogue between conservative and liberal students on campus, this has, I think, thrown a wedge between that,” Ghali said. “I think the fact that this is something that has been seen in conservative movements is shocking and alarming, but also I think that it does just damage the student body and perhaps even our reputation.”
In regards to posters advocating anti-fascism, which is often tied to more liberal movements, Ghali denounced any message that would advocate violence.
“You can say whatever you want and hold views that you want unless those views are going to potentially harm or trivialize the life of another student on campus,” Ghali said.
Jennifer Custis, president of ASU College Republicans, said her club has had no trouble disassociating with white supremacist or alt-right movements.
“Even though people associate the alt-right with Republicans, I don’t know that the alt-right would call themselves Republicans,” Custis said. “They don’t share the same views – clearly – because Republicans believe in equality.”
Custis said the University had every right to remove the alt-right fliers and agreed that they created a threatening environment on campus.
“They aren’t just ‘Go Trump’ signs, they’re threatening signs, so I definitely think it’s good the University took control of that because those are not OK signs and they shouldn’t be around,” Custis said.
Both Ghali and Custis denounced the extremist movements associated with their side of the political aisle. The two leaders said they don’t have any extremists in their respective clubs.
“You have extremes on either side," Custis said. "They shouldn’t exist and neither party wants them to."