Tension is on the rise around a Facebook page that began activity several days ago titled "UT Austin White Student Union.”
The page’s description states it is “a group to promote the ethnic interests of white students and to protect us from BLM terrorism,” with BLM likely referencing Black Lives Matter. Similar pages have been created at other major universities around the nation recently, including at UC Berkely, UCLA and Florida International. Many of the comments to the page accuse the group of racism, while some express support.
The organization spoke with Odyssey via Facebook messenger Sunday, stating that it was created by “a group of ut students and friends.” The organization declined to comment on its membership size, only stating that it is “very pleased with the growth we have had via word of mouth in the last month.” The organization stated that it would like to “come out in the open without fear of violence intimidation or sanction.”
“Right now we are acting as a social group where we can discuss common interests and concerns,” the organization responded via Facebook message. “Our goal is to mainstream the idea that it is ok to be white and to express that yes we have interests as white people and to be considered just another Union on campus.”
The organization stated via Facebook message that it has been hesitant to register as a student organization with UT out of uncertainty at how the UT administration would respond.
UT spokesperson Gary Susswein said in an email Sunday that there’s no way for UT to verify that its students are behind the effort at this time but he is looking into it.
The University of Illinois administration condemned the page for its school in a statement and asked Facebook to take it down, which was done in three hours, according to a Saturday MSNBC report.
UT has historically chosen to put freedom of speech first, even when faced with charges of campus racism.
Facebook commenter Blake Nolan posted to the page about the idea of white privilege.
“So we are just going to sit here and act like white privilege isn't real.... okay then got it,” Nolan stated Sunday.
Commenter Brendan Gaughen simply stated “wrong century, kids.”
The page has featured two Jefferson Davis statue photos as its profile picture over the past several days, along with other Civil War-related images. A Jefferson Davis statue was removed from UT's Main Mall this past summer after it was vandalized several times, bringing about national headlines.