East Tennessee State University has launched an investigation after flyers saying “It’s okay to be white” were posted around its campus, including over a memorial to its first African American students.
“In the early hours of Friday, November 1, racist flyers were placed on multiple buildings and locations across our campus. These flyers were identical to those placed on college campuses across the country by white supremacist groups in an attempt to seed division and discord,” school President Brian Noland wrote in a Monday statement.
“In an act of vandalism, flyers were placed on Borchuck Plaza over the memorial plaques of those five pioneering individuals who desegregated our institutions during the 1950s. It is clear that the posting and placement of these flyers was an attempt to create division in our community and I am disgusted by this act,” Noland continued.
Noland said university officials immediately removed the flyers and opened an “active investigation.”
Friday marked the start of a weekend when historically black fraternities and sororities were set to be honored on the campus, according to NBC News.
NBC News also reported that the signs were posted at the University of Vermont and Champlain College in October of last year. They were also spotted at Tufts University later in 2018.
Similar signs have recently been either posted or emailed in California, Connecticut and Oklahoma, the Nashville Tennessean reported.
The phrase “It’s okay to be white” has been adopted by white supremacist groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League, after being popularized on 4chan, a platform that has frequently been criticized for allowing white supremacist ideology online.
East Tennessee State University came under fire earlier this year after Tristan Rettke, a former student, was found guilty of a misdemeanor count of disrupting a meeting for wearing a gorilla mask and dangling bananas on ropes during a Black Lives Matter rally on campus.