University officials forwarded their investigation into the unauthorized distribution of more than 30 hate-filled flyers that appeared on campus to the Nueces County District Attorney’s office, according to Texas A&M University — Corpus Christi President Kelly Quintanilla.
The statement, released on Feb. 2., was the second Quintanilla released regarding the Jan. 27 incident, seemingly carried out by an organization referring to itself as “Border Stormers,” which promotes neo-nazi messages on its social media site. Some faculty and students were highly critical of the university’s initial reaction to the incident, and to the first official statement released by Quintanilla on Jan. 30. Both statements can be found on page 2.
The campus organization Student Citizen Activists of TAMU-CC (SCA) learned of the flyers Saturday morning, Jan. 27. The group’s president, Daniel Yzaguirre, immediately organized his members to document the flyers, then remove them from numerous buildings around campus. One of the headlines on the flyers stated, “Rapeugees not welcome.” Another declared, “End DACA!,” a reference to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program currently the subject of debate in Congress.
That same day, the group’s faculty adviser, Isabel Araiza, Associate Professor of Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts, reported the incident to university police. University spokesperson Luisa Buttler, in a story published in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on Sunday, Jan. 28., said the flyers were not authorized by the university, as they lacked official approval and were posted on doors and windows, both violations of university policy. It was not until Tuesday, Jan. 30 that President Quintanilla issued her first official response.
“Messages that promote discriminatory, racist comments and images are not part of our intellectual exchange,” stated Quintanilla. “We at A&M—CC and throughout the Texas A&M University System denounce all discriminatory and racist rhetoric, but nonetheless, it is present.”
Reacting to Quintanilla’s statement, Araiza stated that the president’s response, coming four days after the incident occurred, speaks volumes to those — herself included —whose very existence is contemptuous to Neo-Nazis.
“The Alt-Right is just a euphemism to the term – Neo-Nazis,” Araiza said. “The administration called the language used by Nazi propaganda, “racist” and “discriminatory” rhetoric. It’s odd that the terms – racist and discriminatory rhetoric – are now being used as euphemisms for what was clearly hate-filled speech. This is a profound failure of leadership, if you ask me.”
Yzaguirre was also critical of the first response from the university. “Regardless of Dr. Quintanilla and the university’s official statement, our students have been threatened,” Yzaguirre said. “We are shocked and saddened that our university president, who takes pride in being the leader of a Hispanic Serving Institution, does not believe this to be the case. Dr. Quintanilla should be leading the charge to find those responsible and hold them accountable for their actions, yet her delayed statement of condemnation falls far short in doing so.”
Yzaguirre and Araiza also wrote opinion pieces highly critical of the university’s response that were published in the Caller-Times on Feb. 1. The next day, Quintanilla issued her second statement and announced the investigation is now in the hands of the Nueces County prosecutors, and also referred to the flyers as “hate speech.”
“…This is what standing up against hate and demanding action can get you,” Yzaguirre said in a Facebook post in response to Quintanilla’s second statement.
In a statement issued to Island Waves, Yzaguirre emphasized that the second statement was “…exactly what should be done.”
Quintanilla said she does not believe the individual or group responsible for promoting hate speech on campus are TAMU-CC students, according to an e-mail sent to the Caller-Times.
Meantime, SCA posted about 100 flyers of its own around campus last week, and are also planning on-campus events designed to raise awareness and continue the discussion. SCA is holding a rally today at 12:30 pm at the Hector P. Garcia Plaza
“The purpose of the rally is to actively engage with the student populace to show solidarity with all who were scared or threatened by the flyers plastered all over campus,” SCA member Chloe Torres said. “We want to send a message that not only the Islander community, but the community at large, will not allow white supremacy and fascist ideals to spread on this campus or in our city.”
Later today, Araiza will present a lecture on “Racism & Hate Speech” from 3:30-5 pm in the UC Lonestar ballroom as part of the Political Education Speaker Series. A question and answer session will follow.