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Racist flyers found on campus: here’s what we know

Fr. Curran, administrators and students have issued responses.

Ryan Crawford, Editor-in-Chief

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On Monday afternoon, Rockhurst students, faculty and staff were sent, via email, a security notice from Randy Hopkins, Chief of the Rockhurst Security Department, concerning flyers with racist content that were posted on the doors of seven campus buildings.

Here’s what is currently known about the incident:

  • The posting of the racist-in-nature flyers occurred sometime after 6:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23.
  • The flyers appeared on the doors of Arrupe Hall, the Convocation Center, the Student Activities Hall, Massman Hall, Sedgwick Hall, Van Ackeren Hall and the Greenlease Library.
  • An employee and student found the flyers, according to Hopkins’ email.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation notified college and universities that white supremacist groups are targeting colleges nationwide with their materials.
  • The security department said that there are believed to be three or more suspects responsible. They were dressed in similar clothing and were “described as being white males, approximately 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, wearing blue jeans, dark colored jackets and ball and skull caps,” according to the security report.
  • Other area universities found similar flyers.

The Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J., president of Rockhurst University, called the flyers “alarming and embarrassing” in a recent statement. “Vitriolic messages of division delivered by anonymous cowards will be condemned and, as the security report sent [Monday] stated, we will conduct a thorough investigation of this abhorrent incident,” Curran said.

“As our nation struggles to uphold its ideals, values and aspirations, we can demonstrate what it means to live greater. This is how we are to live magis. As a Jesuit enterprise in higher education, we must, and will, continue to allow expressions of contrary thought on our campus. However, this will occur in appropriate forums where a real conversation can occurr.”

The incident comes as Rockhurst is pushing an all-inclusive survey for students, faculty and staff meant to understand the current “campus climate.”

Numerous campus representatives have issued responses to the flyers found Monday morning.

“While it is helpful to note that the suspects are likely part of a nationwide effort targeting college campuses and are not members of the Rockhurst community, we recognize that these actions, nonetheless, have had an effect on members of our community,” said Dr. Matt Quick, Vice President of Student Development and Athletics, and Barb Upton-Garvin, Director of Human Resources. “Let’s continue to be united in our care for one another as we take a stand against forces that seek to divide us.”

Student Senate President, Zach Polhman, ’18, called the flyers “disturbing” and said they “have no place in our community.” Polhman said that the Student Senate has passed a bill outlining the group’s support for affected members.

An anonymous letter from a Rockhurst student said the flyers “filled my chest … of fear and hurt.” “I was scared, once again, because the color of my skin makes me different,” the letter read. “Many of us black students are afraid, but we will not show it. We are keenly aware of, and sensitive to, our extensive difficulties with racism in the past, not because we desire to cling to them, but because we know all too well that history repeats itself in vicious waves.”

The student went on to say that the proper response to the events is “unity.” “Because of this understanding, and the good that springs from our humanity, we desire, and respond with, peace—the antagonist of fear—and unity—the fierce opponent of division.”

Jessica Lockhart, ’18, president of the Rockhurst Black Student Union, said that while the distribution of the flyers was “disturbing,” it wasn’t surprising. “Whether these flyers came from someone who is part of or outside of our campus, Rockhurst’s black student population knows too well the ugly face of prejudice and racism from our fellow classmates and faculty,” Lockhart said. “It is insidious, and it is not something we can fight alone.”

The Black Student Union organized an event on the Kinnerk Commons, or the “Quad,” Thursday afternoon that encouraged conversation and dialogue about the racist flyers. Additionally, they asked that campus members dress in all black Thursday to show solidarity with those affected by the events that have transpired this week.

The investigation into the racist flyers is still ongoing. Check back with the Sentinel for updates.

Interested in joining the Sentinel staff? Reach out to our Editor-in-Chief, Ryan Crawford, at [email protected] to see how you can get involved.

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Racist flyers found on campus: here’s what we know