Provocative signs trigger intense conversation at Gustavus Adolphus
ST. PETER, Minn. (KMSP) - A couple of posters that were up for a few minutes are causing a huge discussion on the Gustavus Adolphus College campus in St. Peter. The posters had racist language, but the authors said they are not themselves racist.
On Monday morning, student groups put up two posters “in an effort to help educate our peers and campus community about issues of bias, and the importance of being an active bystander.”
However, the intent was not clear by reading the poster itself, which said, “A NOTICE TO ALL WHITE AMERICANS: IT IS YOUR CIVIC DUTY TO REPORT ANY AND ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS TO U.S. IMMIGRATIONS AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT THEY ARE CRIMINALS AMERICA IS A WHITE NATION.”
The two posters were ripped down by students about five minutes after they were posted, but it was many hours before students were told who was behind the signs.
“It was very poor execution. I have friends of color who where very afraid,” James Pixley, a sophomore, told Fox 9.
“I think the biggest thing was they left it open to interpretation when they posted the poster without context,” Sean Hinnenkamp, a senior, told Fox 9.
But some students were not bothered by the signs, including a student from Pakistan.
“For me, this is not a big deal because this happens pretty often around me or with my friends or with myself," said Syed Aiziz Haider Shah. "And personally, I don’t have anger. I just feel like these people need to get more educated than me."
JoNes VanHecke, the Dean of Students, told Fox 9 the school was aware of the plan to post the signs and had staffers supervising the posters.
“We had multiple students who reported the incidents to the institutionm, and that’s the kind of positive bystander interaction we would hope for,” said VanHecke.
VenHecke said she sympathizes with any students traumatized by the posters, calling their reactions “legitimate and important feelings.”
Asked if anything should have been done differently, VanHecke replied, “I think a message to students earlier in the day would have been a good move in retrospect.”