UC Davis is investigating the discovery of racist and anti-Semitic fliers received Friday on several networked campus printers. Similar fliers have been sent to printers at other UC Campuses, as well as at universities nationwide, including Princeton, Brown, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Southern California.
According to a statement from Chancellor Linda Katehi, “We are working to identify the source, but preliminary information has linked the Web address to an entity listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the activities of such groups.”
This matter is being investigated by the UC Davis Police Department and campus IT officials.
The chancellor is asking, “If any member of the campus community receives the flier, please notify IT Express immediately by writing to email@example.com and include the name of your office, building, type of device affected, the IP address — if you know it — and the telephone number of an office contact person.”
She said, “Our university takes very seriously incidents that are intimidating, threatening or hostile to any member of the UC Davis community, as illustrated by the Principles Against Intolerance approved just one day ago by the UC Board of Regents. The principles are a powerful affirmation of the UC’s commitment to academic freedom and free speech and an equally powerful declaration that intolerance and hate have no place on our campuses.
“We condemn this latest affront to our community in the strongest terms possible. As we are all painfully aware, bigotry and hate are plagues experienced around the world,” the chancellor stated.
She added, “As Friday’s incident reminds us, we must be ever vigilant in striving for a society where everyone feels safe and welcome. I deeply regret that anyone was exposed to such ugliness, and pledge to you that we will work with our peer institutions and authorities on campus and off to determine its origins and take appropriate actions.”
The Boston Globe reports that three Massachusetts colleges, including UMass, Smith and Northeastern, along with Princeton, Brown and DePaul were also targeted with the fliers. The fliers included swastikas and anti-Semitic text above a link to a website classified as a hate group.
Robert O. Trestan, the Anti-Defamation League’s New England regional director, told the paper that the hacking is a new tactic by such groups, who have historically taped up fliers around campuses or placed them on cars in school parking lots.
“This is a bigger concern than traditional fliering, because there’s a breach of security, and it’s apparently a nationally coordinated attack to spread anti-Semitism,” Mr. Trestan said. “It’s always a concern when people are exposed to hate material and lies about other groups.”
However, neither he nor the police believe that the hacking is indicative of public safety threats to students.
The chancellor of UMass Amherst, Kumble Subbaswamy, called the fliers “cowardly” in an email to students and faculty members.
“This despicable incident reminds us that we must not be complacent as we continue to strive for a society that embraces diversity, inclusion and equity — a society where everyone feels safe and welcome,” he wrote.
—David M. Greenwald reporting