Students stand up against neo-Nazis; their banner is taken down

Courtney Green, News Editor

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The neo-Nazi saga continues for UNF, this time in the form of an anti-neo-Nazi banner being removed within less than 24 hours of putting it up.

UNF Students for a Democratic Society (UNF SDS) dropped a banner yesterday over the side of a floating walkway for every student passing under to see. The banner read: “Neo-Nazis Not Welcome Here.”

Today, that banner is gone.

In a Twitter post, the club wrote that their banner was removed “in less than 24 hours” from when they put it up. The club went on to question why their banners, posters, and chalking were frequently being removed while campus preachers were allowed to “impede walkways and harass students.” They also questioned the removal of their posters at a time when neo-Nazi flyers have been spotted around campus.

When reached out to about the removal of the banner, the University suggested that it might be because UNF SDS had not filed a temporary signage permit.

“The freedom of expression, through use of signs and other materials, is a basic and essential freedom that the University strives to protect. If this sign was removed by the University, it would likely be because a temporary signage permit wasn’t filled out,” the University said.

The policy of filing a temporary signage permit went into effect October 11, 2018.

UNF SDS told Spinnaker the University had not responded to the club’s own inquiry about why their banner was removed. They also said they have posted five banners in their club’s history and they were never reprimanded for not filing a temporary signage permit until Fall 2018, when the policy went into place. According to SDS, they had a Black Lives Matter banner up for months without filing a temporary signage permit; meanwhile, their last two banners have been removed within 24 hours. The last banner to be removed read: “Will trade racists for refugees.”

This isn’t the first instance where UNF Students for a Democratic Society have been outspoken against the alleged neo-Nazi presence on campus. Last week, they released a strong statement on Twitter condemning neo-Nazis and urging the current administration at UNF to take a stronger stance against it than the previous administration.

And they aren’t the only ones to make a statement. During a class activity, Professor Dawn M. Wessling M. Ed., NIC Master had her students make responses to the neo-Nazi posters found on campus.

All of this began when students who wish to remain anonymous posted to Reddit and sent Spinnaker tips about alleged neo-Nazi posters they spotted by Chick-fil-A. A far-right researcher by the pseudonym Subcomandante X also sent Spinnaker a tip about neo-Nazi posts on the Telegram app where pictures were taken of neo-Nazi recruitment flyers hanging around what appears to be UNF’s campus.

When reached out to, the University stated that the UNF Police Department had searched for the posters but were unable to locate any.

In a statement obtained by Spinnaker, the University had this to say:

“University of North Florida wholeheartedly rejects hate in all its forms. The views expressed on this flyer are diametrically opposed to our commitments as a public university and as human beings. We remain extremely committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment on our campus, and welcoming all of our students, faculty, and staff regardless of race, ethnicity, faith, national origin, range of abilities, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

A week later, President Szymanski sent out a campus-wide email to the Osprey community, stating that: “As some of you may be aware, several Neo-Nazi flyers were recently reported on the UNF campus. A flyer was found and removed at a UNF residence hall by a Housing and Residence Life staff member, and efforts by UPD personnel to locate another flyer were unsuccessful. The University of North Florida wholeheartedly rejects hate in all its forms, and the views expressed on these flyers are fundamentally opposed to everything we stand for as a university and as human beings. We remain extremely committed to providing a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment on our campus for all students, faculty and staff regardless of race, ethnicity, faith, national origin, range of abilities, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

According to President Szymanski’s email, “the UPD is continuing its investigation and is actively searching for offensive materials on campus as part of its daily patrols. If you find anything like this, have any information about this case or have concerns related to it, please call UPD at (904) 620-2800.”

Spinnaker will update this story as it develops.

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