Editor's note: an update from the November 6, 2018 balloting.
Posters by a white nationalist group have been popping up on Montana’s college campuses. Even though officials took down these unapproved posters, Identity Evropa posted the evidence to social media.
Carroll College President John Cech said he was notified that Identity Evropa posters were placed on the Helena campus on October 27, 2018. That was the same day a gunman opened fire on worshipers inside a Pittsburgh synagogue.
“In light of the recent events, it’s important for us to embrace our mission as a Catholic Diocesan college in our spiritual, academic and social resources,” said Cech in a statement at the time. “There is no place for hate at Carroll College.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center said this group was founded in 2016 to recruit white, college-aged men under the guise of raising white racial consciousness.
Cech said officials that Saturday did walk the Helena campus looking for the posters, but apparently they already had been taken down. He said the group also tried to post to the Carroll College’s Facebook page, but it was rejected.
“Carroll College really values its diversity and values the saying that all are welcome in this place,” he said.
Cech said the incident was reported to the Helena Police Department’s Montana All Threat Intelligence Center for further investigation.
Rachel Carroll Rivas, co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network, said Carroll College was just one Montana campus that reported sightings of the group’s poster. She said MHRN was told of others placed on campuses in Missoula, Helena, Bozeman and Billings.
Requests for comment to the Commissioner of Higher Education was not immediately returned.
Dr. Robert Wilmouth, President of Rocky Mountain College issued this statement to YPR via email:
"Rocky Mountain College is deeply disturbed by the recent posting on the RMC campus of flyers promoting the white supremacist group, Identity Evropa.
Rocky Mountain College is a community of scholars in which the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of the individual are sustained. However, the exercise and preservation of these freedoms and rights require a respect for the rights of all in the community to enjoy them to the same extent.
Given RMC’s values and mission, the College will not tolerate speech and acts that are harassing to anyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or otherwise.
The College prides itself on cultivating students who respect the dignity and worth of all persons and celebrate differences in their many forms. Rocky Mountain College condemns the message of intolerance that such groups promote."
A spokesperson at MSU Billings said the campus didn’t have a statement and didn’t want to draw attention to the incident in hopes that it would go away.
Carroll Rivas said in these cases, it’s important for academic institutions to quickly and publically respond, “and talk about why it’s dangerous and why these spaces are public and for everyone to be able to thrive.”
“Because I always think about that one student who sees that and may believe that that view is represented by everyone around them,” Carroll Rivas said. “If it’s not called out and they don’t hear from their leaders than we’ve left them in a void. Both to feel alone if they’re the targeted group as a Jewish student, a student of color, or if they’re a student who is susceptible to these ideas.”
She said if white nationalist groups target educational institutions, they should fight back with education.
Talking about the issue is challenging. That is why the Montana Human Rights Network is sponsoring a panel discussion Thursday focusing on how to talk about and how the media reports on white nationalism and white supremacy.