Millersville University fell victim to sticker messages with racially motivated messages. Photo courtesy of Carly O’Neill
Associate Features Editor
On December 3, Millersville University officials were informed about the presence of white supremacist stickers being placed across the campus. University President Daniel Wubah released a statement on December 4 via email, informing the local community that the stickers were removed upon discovery.
According to the letter from President Wubah, the white supremacist stickers were found in locations across the region at other educational institutions. One of the stickers found had the misspelled message, “Never apologise for being white,” according to an email released to students by ‘Ville Bulletin.
“Millersville University stands with our students of color and is deeply saddened by the hurt these messages have caused to our community,” the ‘Ville Bulletin message said.
The Snapper interviewed Millersville Police Chief Pete Anders, discussing the nature of the stickers and the protocol in dealing with them.
Q: How was the MU police station made aware of the stickers around campus?
An officer observed a sticker placed on their police car while they were parked and checking buildings during the evening shift. We then received calls from facilities personnel the next morning of other stickers on exterior signs.
Q: How does the police department decide on how to handle messages such as these being spread across campus?
Officers document and remove unapproved material placed on and/or abandoned on Millersville University property or other property within our care such as traffic signs. Officers notify me if the materials cause property damage or are threatening or containing content that is disparaging, such as content about the race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or preference, or national origin of another individual or group.
Q: What are first amendment considerations in situations such as these?
The First Amendment does not cover defacing or marking University property. The First Amendment allows guests and our community members to hold signs, including signs which may contain hate speech such as that which was on the stickers. The First Amendment also allows persons to gather in public areas of campus and protects their right to speak hateful or bias-based words. The First Amendment does not, however, require an institution or municipality to protect discarded signs after a demonstration or speech or leave stickers on government property. The First Amendment also does not protect causing property damage, as this is considered criminal mischief regardless of whether there is speech involved. Most stickers, regardless of content, are removed without a substantive cost. In reviewing the stickers left as a group, the intent to disparage others who are non-white in the race was obvious. As an example, one of the stickers had imagery of Nazi youth, which while protected, is reasonably viewed as an image of racial or religious intolerance.
Q: In President Wubah’s email to students, he mentions hateful messages in our region have been common recently. Any ideas why this could be?
Unfortunately, hate speech and tagging property with hateful stickers are common across the U.S. and Europe. In our region and state, communities have observed the hate groups Identify Evropa and the Patriot Front, two groups involved with the violent 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Va.
Q: With students being encouraged to contact the MU police department, have any new leads risen in who could be responsible for these stickers?
Yes, the stickers had content that has been observed left elsewhere in our region and nearby states as well as another college on the same evening. We observed on camera four unknown males who were dressed in dark clothing, wearing face and head coverings placing stickers on an outdoor ATM and our police cruiser. Due to the proximity in time, similar males were on another campus. I reasonably believe they are not students or members of our community. We will continue to investigate the incident as at least one of the individuals involved left graffiti which caused the tangible cost to university property.
— END OF INTERVIEW —
The Snapper would like to remind readers that incidents like these lead us as a community to come together and reflect on important issues that are relevant to the overall economic and cultural climate that is constantly evolving in our country. Our communities across this nation must face some uncomfortable questions to then create a welcoming environment.
Anyone who is aware of additional details surrounding the messages is encouraged to call MUPD at (717) 871-4357 or through the LiveSafe app.
Students impacted by messages on campus are encouraged to contact the Center for Counseling at (717) 871-7821. Over weekends, students are encouraged to connect to a crisis counselor by calling (717) 394-2631 or texting HELLO to 741741. Campus ministries may be contacted at https://www.millersville.edu/campusministries/campus-ministries.php.
“Let us unite as a campus community and stand up for our EPPICC values and against hateful and hurtful language and actions,” Wubah says in his letter. “Together, we will continue to travel the road toward inclusion and peace – today, tomorrow and into the future.”