Posters criticizing immigrants, minorities and Muslims were discovered Monday on three buildings and at least one utility pole at the University of Texas.
One of the posters, on a pole along San Jacinto Boulevard just north of 23rd Street, implored people to “imagine a Muslim-free America.” A graduate student in history photographed it and posted the photo on Twitter, adding the question “Hate speech or free speech?”
UT spokesman J.B. Bird said university staff members discovered posters on the outside of the Student Activity Center, the College of Liberal Arts and the Sanchez Building. He said they contained “political messages” aimed at immigrants, minorities and Muslims.
“The signs, some of which were affixed with adhesive, are in the process of being removed. They’re very hard to get off,” Bird said.
“The university vigorously supports free speech, but posting signs of any nature on the outside of university buildings is not allowed under campus rules,” Bird said. “Additionally, as per policy, only students and student organizations are allowed to post signage in approved spaces on campus. The campus is reserved for the use of students, faculty, staff and their invited guests. Any person coming onto campus damaging or defacing university property is subject to criminal prosecution.”
UT President Gregory L. Fenves posted a comment on Twitter: “When some try to divide us, Longhorns stand together. Diversity and inclusion are among our top priorities.”
Activists affiliated with a group called American Vanguard appeared to claim responsibility for the posters, declaring on Twitter that “@UTAustin got a visit from the American Vanguard last night,” along with the hashtag “MakeAmericaWhiteAgain.”
Adherents of the same group apparently were responsible for white supremacist posters found Feb 1. at UT-Dallas, said Larry Zacharias, police chief at that school. American Vanguard boasts on its website that it has also put up posters at Texas State University, Rice University, the University of North Texas and Abilene Christian University as part of its “Texan offensive.”