Posters around the UAA campus were found last week that read, “It’s okay to be white.” The posters have not only appeared on UAA’s campus, but they have appeared in schools all around the country.
On Nov. 7, the university addressed the issue through an email sent out by Interim Chancellor Samuel Gingerich.
“Further investigation revealed this is part of a movement occurring at high schools and universities nationwide designed to create racial tension and division with the express goal of eliciting media coverage,” Gingerich wrote in the email. “At UAA, we refuse to be divided.”
The posters were found in the Student Union, Rasmuson Hall and the Gordon Hartlieb Building among other places. It is not clear who put up the posters, and what exactly their intentions were.
The Office of Equity and Compliance’s Interim Director Ron Kamahele echoed the chancellor’s email.
“It’s important to remember that we are all united in the spirit of learning, creating, discovering and growing,” Kamahele said.
Campus leadership has seemed to have taken a non-confrontational approach to the situation. If Gingerich’s observation that the goal of these posters is to elicit some sort of media attention is correct, leadership’s calm and collected response is appropriate.
Ben Morton, the Dean of Students at UAA, said that something like this is not all that surprising. During his time at both, the University of St. Louis and the University of Memphis, similar occurrences have taken place.
“It seems like once or twice a year at every institution I’ve been at there is some event or series of events that happen that kind of creates concerns,” Morton said.
Morton reiterated that the administration does not know who put up the posters, who they are affiliated with, what their motivation was, or even if they are students at UAA.
Morton did add that the university is planning on using this situation as an educational opportunity sometime after Thanksgiving.
“I think it is important to know that some people saw those posters and it was really concerning to them,” Morton said. “The poster, depending on who you are, can be interpreted in a lot of different ways and that can hit people in different ways.”
The posters have, as of publication, disappeared almost as quickly as they were put up.