St. Cloud White Student Union’s polarizing positions were on display in last month’s feature by the same name. This piece will focus on the reaction to the group and the information conveyed.
Among the claims by “Sam,” the individual who spoke to the University Chronicle, the group doesn’t want to be categorized as white supremacists, white separatists, Nazis or hateful.
“When you hear white nationalist, it identifies as [a] white supremacist,” President of the Somali Student Association Abdullahi Bedel said.
Bedel finds the recent uptick in white nationalist rhetoric very troubling, but that it’s been brewing for a long time.
“After Trump got elected, it’s okay to be outright,” said Bedel.
The organization’s Facebook page describes itself as “Dedicated towards advancing white interests through dialogue and activism.”
In a variety of posts, immigrant communities are the subject of retaliation.
“It’s part of a broader anti-immigrant, white nationalist, white racist rhetoric that is emerging around the country,” History Professor at SCSU Mark Jaede said. “But it’s also all pertaining to our local situation here as a community that has a growing number of people not of European descent who are coming into the community as international refugees and students.”
Jaede is part of the Faculty Senate, a governing body on campus. Members became concerned with derogatory signs being posted around campus. This drove the decision to create a sub-group to examine the issue. The signs expressed similar rhetoric to what the White Student Union is pushing.
“Part of it has been specific messages made by the so-called white student union, but we also have noticed the similarities in the so-called wall display that was put up by the College Republicans,” said Jaede.
There is no connection between the College Republicans and the White Student Union. The current leader of the College Republicans mimicked this sentiment.
In an effort to address questions surrounding free speech on campus, SCSU hosted “Finding the Balance: Campus Inclusion and Free Expression.” After the College Republicans “Wall” display, the University wanted to address campus inclusion and free expression.
The panel happened Wednesday and highlighted the challenges community members face when encountering divided and differing opinions. The discussion brought forth the idea that winning should not be the end goal when having a divisive discussion.
“You need to listen to what people are saying, instead of preparing your next argument,” Student Government President Jack O’Neil Como said.
Jaede sees the public’s lack of understanding of what White Nationalism is as a starting point. The Faculty Senate group is planning a panel discussion to educate students and faculty on the ideology.
“We want to know who they are, to understand where they get the idea of thinking that way, we need to have conversations to learn,” Bedel said.
The argument is expressed by Unitecloud, an organization which amplifies the voices of marginalized communities in St. Cloud. They also want to speak with members of the White Student Union, members of that group are hesitant to meet.
The White Student Union sites their beliefs endanger them. The fear is mirrored in minority communities, but their feelings come from the rhetoric the group uses.
“As immigrants, we pay taxes, we contribute to society. To have these views, not knowing who they are on campus, it’s a threatening feeling,” Bedel said.
“I think that if people are unwilling to come forth with their own identity, to present their own opinions. I have little interest in a dialogue with someone who wouldn’t even identify themselves,” Jaede said.
“There is no reason why people can’t be proud to say who I am, how I look or have the ancestors I have,” Jaede said. “What’s wrong is setting up a race group as the dominant or preferred or inherently more American group than another group.”