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White nationalist posters appear on Weber State campus

OGDEN — Flyers saying "diversity is a code word for white genocide" and urging students to join the self-described "alt-right" appeared at Weber State University on the first day of classes Monday.

Around the same time the papers went up on campus, other posters advertising a screening of the Ava DuVernay documentary "From Slave to Criminal With One Amendment" were removed.

The screening is hosted by the Young Democrats of Utah, which believes the incidents are linked and is "very troubled to hear that this movement had made its way up to Weber State University," said Lorcan Murphy, president of the group.

The white-nationalist flyers were torn down, the university said Monday.

Outside groups that aren't sanctioned by the school need prior approval to post signs, said chief diversity officer Adrienne Gillespie Andrews. And nobody is allowed to post on glass doors or over existing university notices, where the flyers appeared.

The Odgen school of 16,500 full-time students is putting together a series of events for this school year centered on an already-decided theme of civility, and the posters Monday will help inform them, Andrews said.

"I would argue that any time we talk about identity in a way that oppresses or marginalizes someone else, it's incivility," Andrews said. "That's what I would say those posters are doing."

The school now is reviewing its poster policy, much like campuses across the country grappling with similar white nationalist messages, she said.

Andrews noted Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old from Chicago, was lynched 62 years ago Monday while visiting family in Mississippi, where a white woman said he assaulted her but later admitted she lied.

On Monday morning, Riley French was on his way to a business ethics class when he spotted one of the flyers on a door of the Wattis Business Building, he said.

"It said, 'Hey white people, are you tired of being called racist?' … then at bottom it said 'if so, join the alt-right movement,'" French said. "I immediately wanted to take it down."

French, a double-major in business and musical theater, said he was shocked and disappointed because he knows the campus to be inclusive and diverse.

French said he believed students have a right to feel safe at school, but recalled that even hate speech generally is protected, unless it is designed to incite violence.

He decided to leave the flyer alone, but posted about his dilemma on Twitter. By the time class let out, he said, it was gone.

Earlier this month, similar posters went up at the University of Utah, blaming black people for violent crime in the United States. The school condemned them, said they had been removed and said its campus was not a place for hate.

Murphy and French said they hoped Weber State would reaffirm its commitment to keeping students safe and including all its students, including those of color and LGBT.