The flyers have been removed, yet the message found posted in Kreger Hall Tuesday morning still resounds among some students and faculty members at Miami University.
According to the Office of Student Affairs, also located in Kreger, anti-Semitic flyers were found during a routine check of the bulletin boards for old or outdated flyers. Beverly Withrow, a staff member in the department of engineering and applied science, was the first to find the flyers.
“I’ve been here 22 years at Miami, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” Withrow said. She said that she found the flyers Tuesday during a routine walk-through of the bulletin boards in Kreger, where she usually looks for outdated flyers that campus organizations didn’t take down after events occur.
Withrow took the anti-Semitic flyers to the Office of Student Affairs, specifically to Dennis Roberts, associate vice president for student affairs.
“Clearly it is propaganda, and it is probably hate speech,” Roberts said.
According to Roberts, there were three different flyers, all associated with the group National Alliance – a white supremacy organization that, according to the group’s Web site, “accepts our responsibilities as Aryan men and women to strive for the advancement of our race …”
All three flyers attacked the Jewish population, with one specifically denying the Holocaust and another criticizing the media.
Association of Jewish Students president Robyn Steiner said that coming from a big city, she isn’t used to the culture in Oxford in which these signs were posted.
“(I can see how this action) came from this community because of the lack of diversity and lack of interaction among people who are different,” Steiner said.
She said that some people need to realize that the point of events such as the Holocaust Awareness and Remembrance Program, which ended Monday, is to show that the Holocaust should be recognized as an event in history and should not be forgotten.
“It’s not about being Jewish, it’s about being citizens of the world,” she said.
She said she is glad the university took action with the signs.
“I am glad the university stood up and acknowledged what happened,” Steiner said.
Once the flyers were brought to the Office of Student Affairs, Roberts immediately called Miami University’s Police Department (MUPD). However, while Roberts said that he is “pretty sure” the flyers were posted by a group outside of Miami, the Office of Student Affairs has not been able to confirm this.
According to Withrow, flyers posted on public bulletin boards must be from student organizations, or at least student-affiliated. In addition, Withrow said, the content was offensive.
“It wasn’t free speech, it was hate speech,”Withrow said.
Roberts said that flyers have only been found in Kreger and no other reports have been received of similar posters found in other buildings since Roberts posted the notice on myMiami Tuesday afternoon.
Roberts said that an event of this magnitude normally does not occur, especially in Kreger Hall.
“It’s odd that it would happen in this building of all places,” Roberts said.
Withrow also agreed that the event was largely isolated, especially considering the caliber of students, staff and administration that she has encountered over the years.
“They would never do anything like this,” Withrow said.
Roberts said the event is surprising, considering the political climate of Miami’s campus. In an effort to gauge the political climate of the Miami student body, the Office of Student Affairs sent out an online survey spring 2006, asking for students’ political affiliations.
According to Roberts, more than 43 percent of students responded, with the results showing a nearly equal balance of conservatives, liberals and moderates.
“We’re a complex and interesting mix (of students),” Roberts said. “But in any academic community, there’s going to be a variety of ideas.”
Steiner said that while it is acceptable to educate people and have different opinions, the signs in Kreger are not acceptable.
Both Roberts and Withrow said the incident shines a renewed spotlight on the flyers that line the hallways of the buildings across the campus.
“I don’t think people really look at what’s on the walls,” Roberts said. “It’s likely most students just passed this by.”
Withrow said she will be more vigilant about what is posted on the bulletin boards.
“It gave me a renewed sense of attention to what’s going on in the building,” she said.
Additional reporting provided by Kellyn Moran.