More Alt-Right materials being found on Iowa State campus

Nik Heftman

Alt-Right materials, including identical or similar messages to white heritage posters found around campus in October 2016, are continuing to be found on campus.

Brett Nicholson, senior in animal ecology, was headed to the library Thursday morning to get some homework done before his first class. At a cubicle on the fourth floor of the library he found a black business card with “Alt-Right” written in large-font white letters and a purple broken swastika identical to the ones found on the posters in October.

The alternative right, better known as the alt-right, is a name embraced by white nationalists to describe their version of far-right ideologies. The movement centers its beliefs around “white identity” and “preserving the white race” in the United States. Richard Spencer, a white nationalist within the movement, was said to have coined the term in 2008. Spencer is viewed as a leader in the movement.

The movement is known to criticize “multiculturalism” and the ideal that all should have equality under the law, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center.

“I heard about [similar things being found on campus],” Nicholson said. “I never actually saw any of it [until Thursday].”

The flip-side of the card contained messages of white heritage, written in the same white font, along with three web addresses. The card bore messages identical to those found on white heritage posters found around campus in October 2016. 

“We believe that broken swastika that was found on the first poster belongs to a national group,” said Carrie Jacobs, deputy chief of investigative services for Iowa State Police. “There are subgroups in states, so we are trying to figure out if one of those exists in our community somewhere.” 

On Oct. 27, about 20 posters were found on campus, according to an email from Iowa State administrators. The signs included messages such as “White students you are not alone be proud of your heritage” and “In 1950 America was 90 percent white, it is now only 60 percent white. Will you become a minority in your own country?”

Similar posters were found in mid-November when, roughly three weeks after the discovery of “white heritage” posters on campus, more were placed around Iowa State detailing a similar message. The posters were removed because they violated the facilities and grounds use policy according to Iowa State. Jacobs said posters that violate the policy, no matter the message, must be removed. 

The Iowa State Police Department has kept a running documentation of all poster sightings. The documentation has been filtered through Iowa State’s campus climate response team, a team created in 2016 as a collaborative effort between Iowa State Police, the Iowa State Division of Student Affairs and several other offices. 

Jacobs said a campus camera has captured images of people wearing clothing bearing symbols related to the symbols found on the posters. The images were passed on to the Iowa Department of Corrections in an effort to identify groups in Iowa that share similar symbols. 

Iowa State Police has not had luck identifying any individuals, since they have been posted late at night in spots on campus without camera surveillance.  

Jacobs said her threat assessment team will meet with the Dean of Parks Library Monday morning to ensure her awareness of the situation. 

“Even if there is no crime committed, we consider it to be a big deal,” Jacobs said. “People do not have to make an official police report, but we want to encourage people to contact threat assessment with any information.” 

Jacobs encouraged anyone with information to contact Jacobs or Detective Tim Denger of ISU PD’s Threat Assessment at (515) 294-4428. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect what the “alt-right” movement is and the context behind it.