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University condemns acts of hate

Following are updates about investigations into five recent incidents on Northwestern's Evanston campus.

In recent weeks, a number of messages associated with white-supremacists and hate groups have been posted around our Evanston campus. Two stickers and one handwritten note, all with the slogan, “It’s Okay to Be White,” have been discovered by students.

A fourth such message, another sticker, was found Tuesday night around 8:15 p.m. in the Garage. A student reported that he worked there until about 4:30 that afternoon. After forgetting his laptop there, he came back to retrieve the computer, he said. It was then that he found an “It’s Okay to Be White” sticker inside the laptop sleeve. The sticker was still attached to the original backing paper, he said.

Northwestern strongly condemns such messages. We take such incidents seriously, and will investigate thoroughly. To some, the expression may seem harmless and legitimate on the surface. Yet for that very reason, it has been adopted in recent years by white-supremacists and neo-Nazi groups as a means to divide communities and harass many of their members.

We will update you as new information becomes available. If you have information about Tuesday’s incident – or any of the incidents that have occurred on our campus in recent weeks – we urge you to contact Northwestern Police Department at 847-491-3456.

Statement from April 24

The Northwestern Police Department can confirm that a third message stating “It’s Okay to Be White” was found on Tuesday, April 23, this time handwritten and inside a women’s restroom, taped on the hand towel dispenser in Norris University Center on the Evanston Campus.

The University encourages whoever is doing this to stop. The slogan has recently been adopted as code on the part of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, and makes many in our community feel unsafe.

If you have information about any of the incidents that have occurred on our campus in recent weeks, we urge you to contact NPD at 847-491-3456.

The police department continues to investigate.

Statement from April 22

On Friday, Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin sent a message to the community to inform you of two disturbing incidents that occurred in recent weeks, acts that violate University standards and our collective principles of civility and inclusiveness. The incidents included racist symbols or phrases that do not reflect our values and are unacceptable at Northwestern.

Unfortunately, we write you this morning to inform you about a similar incident that was discovered over the weekend. On Saturday evening, a student contacted the Northwestern Police Department to say he observed a second sticker that read "It's Okay to Be White," this time in a bathroom stall in the Main Library. The student told police he removed the sticker and threw it away, but forwarded a picture of the sticker to investigators. The restroom is located along the northwest corridor leading to the arts collection in Deering Library.

Officers searched nearby common areas of the Main, Deering and Mudd libraries and did not find any similar stickers. However, given that we have discovered two such stickers this month, it's possible additional stickers could be placed on our campus in the days and weeks to come, and community members could find them.

As stated in the Friday email to campus, University leadership — and the Northwestern community — will not tolerate such acts of hate occurring at Northwestern and causing any members of our community to feel unsafe or singled out for discrimination.

Let us be absolutely clear: Northwestern University does not discriminate or permit discrimination or harassment by any member of its community against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship status, veteran status, genetic information or any other classification protected by law in the matters of admissions, employment, housing, services or in educational programs or activities we operate.

You can read the University's full Policy on Discrimination and Harassment, as well as Northwestern's Title IX Statement.

Any such discrimination simply will not be tolerated. Northwestern Police continue to investigate this incident, along with the previous acts reported to the community on Friday. If we find that University policies have been violated, appropriate processes and action will be taken. Northwestern University would hold an individual or individuals responsible and accountable for every policy violated, including harassment, discrimination, damage to property or any other.

If you have information about any of the incidents that have occurred on our campus in recent weeks, we urge you to contact the Northwestern Police Department at 847-491-3456.

Statement from April 19

In recent weeks, the Northwestern University community learned of two separate incidents suggesting attempts at racial intimidation. I would like to offer an update regarding what we have been able to find about those incidents.

When a noose was found in the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion last month, Northwestern’s senior leadership immediately launched an investigation and issued a statement denouncing any attempt to threaten members of our University community. A student came forward to report that she had been using the rope for a class project. After she accidentally left the rope behind, an unknown person fashioned it into the form of a noose, which was subsequently discovered on a table in the complex’s common area. 

In the second incident, a few weeks ago, a student posted on social media a photo of a sticker found in Allison Dining Hall that read, “It’s Okay to Be White.”

Both incidents involve repugnant symbols of hate and intolerance. The noose has ominously represented racial intimidation and violence for generations, and the slogan on the sticker has recently been adopted as code on the part of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.

Northwestern’s senior leadership has in both of these cases reiterated the principles of community that bind us: principles centered on civility, mutual respect and inclusivity. We have heard concerns that more must be done to make all members of this community feel safe and informed, and we take those concerns seriously.

Northwestern Police continue to investigate both incidents. In both cases, investigators reviewed video surveillance but could not find evidence of the perpetrators. In the case of the sticker found in Allison Dining Hall, police have appealed for witnesses with information to come forward but as of yet have been unable to corroborate the reports made through social media. The campus was searched and no other stickers have been found. More information is needed, and we urge anyone with such information to contact our police at 847-491-3456. 

Acts of hate, whether premeditated or not, will not go unchallenged at Northwestern University. Those who choose to be a part of the Northwestern community are expected to abide by a code of conduct that does not tolerate such acts.

While we continue to investigate these events, we take pride in the response we have seen from our students, staff and faculty. They have collectively asserted the manner of community that we are and always shall be: One that stands together to prize and protect its extraordinary diversity.

Statement from April 8

Northwestern University learned that an ‘It’s okay to be white’ sticker was allegedly found in Allison Dining Hall on Saturday. The University is concerned and disturbed to hear that someone may have left a symbol often used by white supremacist groups on our campus.

The Northwestern Police Department (NPD) is actively looking into the matter.

While we value freedom of expression, we also must stand together to protect our values of diversity and inclusion. Posting a symbol of hate and intolerance on our campus violates our values and the core commitments of the University. Any act of hate, whether intentional or careless, will not be tolerated. Northwestern is committed to creating a safe, secure and welcoming environment for all of our students, faculty and staff.

NPD encourages anyone with information about the alleged incident to contact the department at 847-491-3456.

Statement from March 15

Northwestern University Police confirm that a rope, which appeared to be fashioned into a noose, was discovered a little after 7 a.m. Friday on a table in the common area outside the locker rooms at Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. NUPD treats such incidents seriously, and is actively investigating the incident, including a review of security footage.

As an entire leadership team, we are deeply disappointed and disturbed to hear that someone left a symbol of hate and intolerance on our campus overnight. Such an act violates our values and the core commitments of the University. Any act of hate, whether intentional or careless, will not be tolerated. Northwestern is committed to creating a safe, secure and welcoming environment for all of our students, faculty and staff.

Investigators believe the item was left on the table between 5 p.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday.  NUPD encourages anyone with information about the incident to contact the department at 847-491-3456.

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