By Sam Sokol/(JTA) – A University of Massachusetts student was asked to remove a sign from her dorm window saying “F*** Nazis, you are not welcome” because it did not foster a sense of inclusion. Nicole Parsons, a junior, said she put up the sign following an incident in which a swastika was scrawled over a Happy Hanukkah sign on campus, BuzzFeed News reported Sunday, Dec. 30. “I thought maybe if I hang the sign up, maybe the person who drew the swastika will see it and see someone condemning their actions, even if the administration doesn’t do it,” she told BuzzFeed.
However, she soon received an email from a residence director informing her that although the sign was permitted under freedom of speech,
“There are some in the community who have expressed that the sign should be taken down as it has created mixed emotions in the community on how to proceed, issues of inclusion, and the ability to be active members of their community,” the RA, Eddie Papazoni, wrote. “While Residence Education cannot force you or your roommate to take the sign down, I am asking that you or your roommate take the sign down so that all students can be a part of an inclusive residential experience, as well as having a respectful environment to be a part of here on our campus.”
Parsons told BuzzFeed that she was in shock and that she believed the email showed that “the university cares more about the feelings of Nazis than the safety of their students.”
The university appeared to backtrack on its request, posting on Facebook that “a poorly worded email from Residence Life staff asking students to take down the sign does not reflect the values of the campus, and it should not have been sent. UMass Amherst emphatically rejects Nazis, and any other hate group, a view expressed in the students’ sign. However, we are sensitive to the use of profanity, which some could find inappropriate. The university respects the students’ right to display the sign and it may remain up.”
In June, the Anti-Defamation League reported that white supremacist propaganda on U.S. college campuses had risen by 77 percent over the past nine months.