A group calling themselves the St. Cloud White Student Union recently posted flyers on campus that had statements on it including, “Whites Unite” and “You will not shame us. You will not silence us. You will not replace us.”
After processing the initial introduction of the group to the SCSU campus, we, at the University Chronicle, decided we needed to know more about this group. Namely, who are they, what are they about, and what are their plans.
I contacted the group’s Facebook page to speak with a representative of the group. I was told by someone who messaged me back that they, “prefer [that] conversation and questions are directed via social media or email.”
I later found out they feared being identified.
I left my contact information and within days someone called “Sam,” using a secured Proton Mail email address, contacted me. What followed were surprising revelations that were often more nuanced than expected. For example, “Sam” claims that while he occasionally watches Fox News he also listens to MPR.
All quotes from “Sam” are part of an email chain between him and myself.
Who are they?
“Sam,” told me that he was a founding member of the group and that the group didn’t exactly adhere to a rigid hierarchy. “We tend to shirk titles at the current time but we do have levels of authority just for the ease of organizing events. Usually, the person who brings up the idea becomes the organizer,” he said.
“Sam” declined to name anyone in the group out of the fear of reprisals. He told me they’ve received threats and was afraid of being doxed (having your personal information posted on the internet for everyone to see).
What “Sam” did tell me was that due to the recent media attention, they were currently having “a membership request boom.” “Sam” claimed the group boasts 47 members and would reach 100 members if all the current applicants are accepted.
All are from the St. Cloud metro area and over half are students. All are under 30-years-old except for a professor who acts as a mentor for the group. “Sam” declined to tell me where the professor works or what their name is, “due to the politically charged climate and the professor’s direct wish to remain anonymous.”
“Sam” also told me the group has satellite chapters working in U of M Duluth, U of M Twin-Cities, and UW-Madison, with the number being around 20 members in total. But that, “our chapter founders are working very hard doing membership drives there,” “Sam” said.
Beyond that, there isn’t much information out there identifying who the people are behind the Facebook page, as the membership page of the group is not set for public view.
Who they are not
Due to the secretive nature of this organization, it’s impossible to say for certain who is and is not a member. I did, however, speak with Mathias Eike, former president of SCSU College Republicans, who told me that while he did speak to the group, they were not affiliated with the SCSU College Republicans and that he was not aware of any SCSU College Republicans who were members of the White Student Union. Eike declined to give me transcripts of the conversation.
I also spoke to Patrick Casey, CEO of Identity Evropa, a white nationalist organization whose rhetoric closely matches those of the White Student Union. Identity Evropa also did a banner drop in St. Cloud around Christmas time in 2016. The banner read, “No More Refugees. Americans First. Identity Evropa.”
Casey told me, via email, that there is no connection – informal or otherwise – between the White Student Union and Identity Evropa. Casey did say that “so long as they are advocating for the interests and identity of European Americans in a legal, non-violent, and respectful manner, I support them.”
Casey also informed me that Identity Evropa is active on all college campuses in the St. Cloud area including between 50-100 members on the SCSU campus alone.
Who are they about?
The group’s Facebook page is rife with memes and news articles, often focusing on keeping non-white immigrants out of the United States. The Facebook page has also been known to get into social media spats with Unite Cloud, a group that, according to their Facebook page, “provides education & actionable steps to resolve tension and restore dignity to all St Cloud, MN people.”
“Sam,” told me the group’s goal is “to create an environment in which we can openly discuss our peoples interests, without fear of repercussion. We work towards accomplishing this goal by creating dialogue with various forms of activism. We also wish to promote a sense of brotherhood for our members, by hosting regular events alongside our activism.”
His “people,” according to “Sam,” are white people. He told me they, “use the general definition of white and white culture. We have members of Hispanic and Middle Eastern genetic backgrounds who we believe to be white,” he said.
He then referred me to what Unite Cloud defines as a white. “We feel their definition of whiteness is really good,” he said.
Unite Cloud did not respond for comment regarding this topic before this article was published.
There’s also a lot of criticism from commenters on the group’s Facebook page. Often, people call them racist. When I asked “Sam” how he would respond to that he denied that he or the group were racist or that they are white supremacists.
“How could advocating for your right to self-associate be considered supremacist or racist?” he said “We don’t want to rule over anybody else other than ourselves. We simply don’t think it’s fair that everybody, of all races in America, has to abide by laws and rules written and enforced by people who don’t think like them or share a similar background. How is it fair that African American communities have to abide by white or Jewish rulings from courts and state legislatures? We certainly don’t think that’s fair to anybody and that multicultural democracy will continue to fail all the peoples participating in it.”
“Sam” also informed me that members of his group have encouraged other members to read writings by Malcolm X. “He encourages this very line of thinking,” he said.
When I asked him to define exactly what the group is, “Sam” said that the term “White Nationalist” fit them better than terms like “white separatists.”
“We’d be comfortable going with that as Malcolm X considered himself a black nationalist too,” he said.
“Separatist” has a connotation of violence or radicalism or subversion of the state to it. In technical terms, a lot of things could be applied to us, but choosing your wording and defining yourself specifically is very important in this sound-byte world,” he added.
As far as political ideology, “Sam” claimed that most of their members are nationalists, but that mainstream Republican libertarians fill their ranks as well.
Some of their members support President Donald Trump, although they “sure don’t support everything he has done.”
“That being said,” added “Sam” “we believe he is one of the best presidents in recent history, and is alliged [sic] with our interests.”
“Sam,” said he wanted to inform people that they “are not white supremacists, nazis, or hateful.”
“We try to engage in meaningful discussions with them, however, they usually revert to calling us nazis and threatening violence when we make a point,” he added.
What are their plans?
Recruitment seems to be of the utmost importance, as it is for Identity Evropa. They want to build their numbers. Flyers, banner drops, and media attention help with that cause.
And despite “Sam’s” insistence that the White Student Union wants to engage with other groups and foster a discussion, they have so far declined to do that.
Fear seems to be the deciding factor behind that. Fear that they’ll be found out.
“Our fears with Unite Cloud, and other organizations and individuals who’ve contacted us, is even if we can ensure their cooperation with our desire for maximum privacy (we can’t), we can’t trust the people around them,” he said.
“Sam” added, “all it takes is a video tech who disagrees with us to spread our face and name to their friends and our potential careers, our family’s careers, and even our safety is thrown out the window.”
The White Student Union would “love to hold a publicized debate,” he said, “in practice we don’t want to be beaten or robbed.”
My theory is, what the group means when they say they want to have an open discussion is, they want to be able to have an open discussion with people that are sympathetic to their cause.
They’re doing their best to make that happen.
This is the first part of a two-part series. The next part will be the St. Cloud community’s response to the St. Cloud White Student Union and what the SCSU administration is doing about the rise of white nationalists on campus.