Students at the University of Alabama-Birmingham marched on Wednesday, protesting suspected white nationalists on campus.
Michael B. Williams, a microbiology TA at UAB, has posted comments online which “strongly suggest” he’s connected to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.
After those posts, along with Williams’ curriculum vitae, which highlighted his status as a “native born citizen of the United States,” were leaked, students on campus took action. The controversy resulted in Wednesday’s march, led by students dissatisfied with the university’s response to the situation.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Identity Evropa, which was founded in 2016, works to recruit white men on college campuses to be a part of the white nationalist movement. The SPLC notes that the group’s slogans include “Keep Your Diversity We Want Identity.” And Identity Evropa founder Nathan Damigo has cited David Duke’s My Awakening as one of his influences.
As for Williams’ involvement, AL.com reports that the graduate student posted in an online chat forum connected to Identity Evropa. AL.com reports that in one leaked chat log, Williams wrote, “The immigration policy can narrow the type of person allowed in, but their offspring is very unpredictable.”
This rally is in response to the continued employment of teaching assistant and active Identity Evropa member Michael Williams and UAB's continued refusal to address the issue.
— Birmingham DSA🌹 (@BhamDSA) April 15, 2019
Arianna Villanueva, who organized Wednesday’s rally with her classmate Hanh Huynh, told AL.com that Identity Evropa is recruiting on UAB’s campus and is “a threat” to the university. The outlet reports that the university sent an email to students “condemning hate,” but many don’t feel the school is doing enough to stop the group.
“There’s just not this student,” Huynh told the school’s radio channel WBHM. “There’s more here and they’re actively recruiting members. This movement is about white supremacy in general.”
Part of the march happening at the UAB student rally against white nationalism. pic.twitter.com/kZzIiKy6pT
— Ivana Hrynkiw Shatara (@IvanaSuzette) April 17, 2019
UAB students are gathered outside of the Hill Student Center for a peaceful protest. pic.twitter.com/Hh6mHXj8gj
— Janae Pierre (@missjanaepierre) April 17, 2019
Dr. Paulette Dilworth, the school’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, told AL.com, “UAB is a richly diverse and inclusive campus that is committed to protecting free speech while maintaining a culture of respect and civility that is aligned with our vision, mission, and values.” She also said in the statement that the university’s, “goal as an institution is to protect the safety of the members of the UAB community, while also allowing people to exercise their constitutional rights.”
Williams told The Chronicle of Higher Education that he was once a member of Identity Evropa but is no longer involved with the group. He also “reiterated that he is not a white supremacist,” the outlet reported.
“I love the students that I teach,” Williams said to the Chronicle. “And I don’t blame any of them for issues that we have as a cultural clash between our groups. I don’t fear or hate anyone.”
The graduate student also told the Chronicle that he’d copied the CV template from a Pakistani student. “I never meant it to come off as ‘Hey, I’m a white boy,'” he told the outlet.
Identity Evropa’s attempts to recruit students have been spotted at other universities, too. In November, Identity Evropa stickers were found around Duke University’s campus. And in March, one Twitter user reported seeing an Identity Evropa poster at Berkeley.
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