The University of Regina continues to investigate after signs were posted around campus Tuesday saying “It’s okay to be white.”
Khalid Mohamed has been a student at the university for the past five years and says he wouldn’t expect a politically charged poster to be present at the school, especially with the growing international student population.
“Especially being in the Geology department, I got to meet a lot of Nigerian students who told me about back home and how it’s been transitioning into Canada,” Mohamed said.
But it’s not an isolated incident, these posters have been surfacing on campuses in Canada and the United States in recent weeks.
“We did an investigation to look where this came from,” Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Regina, said. “It’s actually a movement that’s come out of the United States from the alt-right.”
Timmons added the posters scattered throughout campus were placed in strategic locations, including on the door of the Office of Indigenization which helps make the campus welcoming to Indigenous peoples.
However, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. One professor says the idea was started in an anonymous online message board called 4chan trying to attract attention and cause a media frenzy.
“In this particular case on October 23 there was a dare, I think they called it a proof of concept, where they put up a sign with this particular message ‘It’s okay to be white,’ and they challenged people to post this in public buildings,” Dr. Alec Couros, Professor of Education Technology and Media said.
While the creator of the post remains anonymous, Couros says the intention behind the idea worked.
“This particular challenge worked really well because it became to foment the already racial and political tensions because of the alt-right movement,” he said.
Still the university wants to make one thing clear to students and the community.
“We do not tolerate racism on our campus and we know it’s there and it’s part of society but our job is to combat it,” Timmons said.
Right now the university continues to investigate whether the posters should be considered vandalism.
“It’s glued to the doors and its actually caused damage to them, it’s very hard to get off, so that’s also part of the strategy to make it difficult to get off the signs,” Timmons said.
Moving forward, Timmons adds the university will continue to be one that celebrates inclusiveness and diversity.