On Monday, March 1, 2010, fliers featuring very demeaning racist and sexist illustrations that would have been common in the Jim Crow era were placed on cars in parking lots 25 and 34 on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus. The following is Chancellor Richard H. Wells’ statement on how the campus community can counter hate speech.
“The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is committed to inclusive excellence, and we simply do not tolerate any form of hate speech or illegal activity. We will continue to respond strongly to racist and sexist behavior and to enforce the law when the instances are violations of the law. We are doing everything we can to assist law enforcement authorities to apprehend the perpetuator(s), and we will continue to do whatever we can within the law to protect members of our community from further exposure to acts of a sexist or racist nature.
For example, we are considering the pros and cons of installing cameras in our parking lots to create greater security in our lots. We also are collaborating with law enforcement officials throughout the region and with our sister institutions to respond very strongly to these types of racist and sexist acts. Furthermore, I will be approaching our faculty to organize panels and information sessions on effective ways to counter hate speech while upholding everyone’s first amendment rights.
“I am concerned with what appears to be an increase in the frequency of these types of racist and sexist occurrences in Wisconsin and around the nation. I believe this pattern is likely to continue if we don’t take all necessary measures to discourage further expressions of hate speech. I am calling on educational, business, media, elected and other community leaders throughout the New North region to stand up and speak out forcefully against what appears to be an increase in hate speech and other racist and sexist behaviors. I believe we, as leaders, are morally obligated to speak out.”