URBANA — A Facebook page for an "Illini White Student Union" decrying "terrorism" against white students surfaced Wednesday afternoon, drawing immediate criticism from other students and university officials.
The page had been taken down by 6:45 p.m., not long after UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said university officials were alerting "the people who put it up" that they were violating the UI’s trademark, as well as reporting the page to Facebook since its content violates the social-media giant’s own policies.
A new community page with the same title was put up about 9:30 p.m. Its "about" section reads: "White Pride and a safe place for White students." The profile photo no longer featured a picture of Foellinger Auditorium but a group of students.
The original page was described as a "new page for white students" at the University of Illinois "to be able to form a community and discuss our own issues as well as be able to organize against the terrorism we have been facing from Black Lives Matter activists on campus."
The page drew prompt criticism on Facebook from organizers of a Black Student Solidarity Rally on the Quad earlier in the day.
"One result of our successful Black Student Solidarity Rally. An Illini White Guilt Student Feelings Union," wrote Sunny Ture, a UI graduate student.
Another commenter, Kiana Kimbrough, wrote: "It is so sad to see that such ignorance still exists in 2015. The creator and supporters of this page are pathetic. These people are cowards that hide behind an anonymous account. Grow up."
A message from the page administrator, in response to a News-Gazette inquiry, said the page was created as a response to recent protests on campus.
"We feel they disrupt student daily life and activity far too much. We are in the United States and not Africa and we don’t desire to have an African flag on campus," the message said.
The message said the university fails to protect the rights and free speech of white students and "marginalizes them."
The administrator would not comment further or provide a name. It’s unclear whether he or she is a UI student.
One post solicited pictures of black protesters on the Quad "so we know who antiwhites are." Others linked to controversial organizations "devoted to fighting antiwhite racism" and provocative takes on the recent protests by black students at the University of Missouri.
"Nothing on this page is hateful. Everything posted on here will be factually well-researched and truthful. We are committed to the fair and equal treatment of all, and yes that mean whites too," a post said.
Before the page was removed, Rene Romano, the UI’s vice chancellor for student affairs, issued a statement calling the posts "offensive to our university community."
"Posts and pages such as these stand in complete opposition to the values of mutual respect and community that define the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While they may be protected exercises of free speech, they are offensive, divisive and stunningly narrow-minded expressions," Romano said. "Just because someone has the power to make a statement does not mean that we should give those words weight or value."