Earlier this weekend, pages for “White Student Unions,” affiliated with a variety of universities, began appearing on Facebook. According to The Daily Beast, the pages are being created as part of a prank perpetrated by trolls from 4chan, 8chan, and the white supremacist website Daily Stormer.
Among the victims, it appears, is one of the country’s largest private colleges: New York University. “European-American students on college campuses face unique and immediate challenges that are ignored or even actively denied in today’s cultural climate,” reads the Facebook page description for the Union of White NYU Students.
“We affirm the dignity and ancestry of our proud people who have gifted the world with countless works of beauty, science, and wisdom, and are committed to promoting a dialogue and political resistance that will secure a future for our posterity and spirit.”
Yesterday, I messaged the anonymous administrator of the page, asking to speak with someone from the group, or if I could attend one of their (apparently weekly) meetings sometime soon—if they felt comfortable with that.
“Neat story,” whoever is running the page replied. “I can’t go to any meetings for obvious reasons. But you can ask me any questions you like here.” Asked to elaborate on those reasons, the page responded: “Well, frankly it’s not my job to educate you. If you want to speak to me, it will be on my terms.”
Fair enough. Still, I asked for proof that the page is run by a current NYU student. (Whoever is running the page told The Tab—which, incidentally, needs to come up with a better name—that they are a liberal arts undergrad at the College of Arts and Science from Montclair, New Jersey.) Their reply:
Can you offer me proof you are Brendan O’Conner? [sic] I mean, the title “freelance journalist” is pretty sketchy, and considering I have been getting death threats all day and people are very keen to find out who I am and where I live forgive me for being cautious. Absent showing you my student ID, I don’t see how I could prove this. So you will just have to take my word for it. But I don’t need your coverage. I already have three interviews that I have done for various college papers and the NYU blog today. So take it or leave it. I need you to verify who you are first though.
I responded with a link to my personal website. “Have you ever heard the term numale?” the Union of White NYU Students asked. “Because that’s you.” (The union did not offer a definition of the term, but the NuMale Medical Center markets treatments for, amongst other things, erectile disfunction, low testosterone, and hair loss.)
Eventually, the anonymous writer explained, in part, their anxiety about meeting in person, worrying that it might be “a set-up”:
Do you know what antifa is? It is a group of people that dedicate themselves to going around and disrupting any gathering of white people and trying to get them expelled, fired or ostracized in some other way. I could get expelled and have my future career ruined for this. Campus is *not* a free specch safe zone anymore. And many people have been whipped up into a violent temperment by recent protest mvements. White kids have suffered violence on campus simply for not participating in blacklivesmater events.
In a statement issued today to NYULocal, university spokesperson Matt Nagel disavowed the White Student Union page. “There is no such organization as this at NYU, the Facebook page is using NYU’s logo illegally and without permission, and we have contacted Facebook to demand the NYU logo be removed,” the statement reads. “We reject—and we call on others to reject—efforts such as this to derail or distort candid, thoughtful discourse on race.
“When I chose to do this, I knew that it would not be long before the accusations of KKK, Nazi etc came out. But I hope to use these to make my point. White identity cannot be discussed constructively because of this sort of slander. This is part of why I made this group.”
“But this is classic intimidation tactics. We had a guy on my page yesterday saying that the Klan was supporting us and linking to some page that I didn’t want to click on because it looked sketchy. This is a classic way to deflect and not deal with the issues.”
I suggested that meeting in person, or at least offering proof of their identity off the record, might lend their message the authority of having been vetted by an impartial, journalistic third party, so that people might begin to address the substance of what they are trying to say. “The accusations don’t bother me,” they wrote. “They prove my point.”
Asked why they wouldn’t want people to consider their argument on its merits, the person behind the page did not reply.
Update 11/24 – Breitbart Tech claims to have spoken with and verified the identities of the administrators of “white student union” pages associated with UBC, UCSB, and UCSC. So take that for what it’s worth.