This is a developing story. Updates will be added as information becomes available.
Over this past weekend, a University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) student discovered an offensive flier on Dodge Campus.
The flier urges local citizens to “report any and all illegal aliens” while illustrating a racist and violent drawing of a police officer smiling while placing a gun to the head of an individual crossing the depicted border line.
The student, who asked not to be named, discovered the flier on a pole in the West Garage, removed the one they saw and reported it to Student Government. Upon discovering the report Monday morning, student body president and student regent Aya Yousuf issued the following statement:
“One of my favorite things about being a Maverick is the welcoming and inclusive community that I have witnessed and continue to witness here on campus. UNO prides itself on being an inclusive and diverse community and I truly believe in those values. With that being said, this flier does not exemplify UNO’s culture of inclusion and diversity. I’m proud that UNO Public Safety and administrations have made it their priority to welcome students of various backgrounds and are assisting in this matter. Student Government, as well as other campus resources, are always here to welcome and support students regardless of identification.”
UNO Public Safety officers are working to make contact with the individual or individuals responsible for hanging the flier, as it does not meet the required standards for advertising materials on campus and does not speak to the diversity and inclusion values upheld by UNO.
Sam Petto of University Communications said that continuing to display those posters following potential contact with UNO Public Safety would result in repercussions up to being banned and barred from campus.
While this flier clearly draws upon visual stereotypes considered to be offensive and racist, Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Success and political science professor, broke down the impact materials like this have on political discourse on campus.
“Because that piece of material is openly advocating physical removal of individuals and the image itself is offensive, of a police officer holding a gun to the head, obviously to someone who is supposed to be an immigrant, it could be interpreted as hate speech,” Benjamin-Alvarado said.
He said that it’s important to interpret this flier based on who distributed it. While university officials are still unsure who exactly hung the flier, it is labeled as an item circulated by the Daily Stormer.
“I find it very offensive. That piece of paper comes from the Daily Stormer, which is a Neo-Nazi hate group,” Benjamin-Alvarado said. “If you visit their website, you’ll see offensive statements being made about all kinds of people. It’s one of those issues where you consider the source. Look who’s putting this information out, and take it for what it’s worth.”
This is not the first incident in Omaha where similar pieces of propaganda were hung up. Last year, similar fliers were seen in other Omaha neighborhoods.
“To me, it might not be a large number of individuals doing things like this, but they feel compelled to distribute that propaganda, and I’d say it’s pretty cowardly,” Benjamin-Alvarado said. “They put it in a garage, in a parking lot, but you don’t see them standing on the corner of 72nd and Dodge holding that sign.”
Though this incident is seriously investigated by campus officials, Benjamin-Alvarado said he believes it is an example of “the furthest extension of the negative perspective on immigration in the United States today.”
He said that the conversation surrounding immigration must take into consideration the complicated relationship between labor, the marketplace, American consumers and the behaviors of elected officials.
“Our elected officials are not doing a good job of telling people information they need to know to be informed about immigration,” Benjamin-Alvarado said. “They defer to unkind and outwardly racist actions, and it makes the problem worse, rather than better.”
Ultimately, he said, this flier plays into the narrative of unkind political engagement and does not adhere to the student code of conduct.
Part of Benjamin-Alvarado’s work as the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Success is to engage all perspectives on campus to advance ideas in a public forum.
“We have far right elements, far left elements, and we talk directly to them. We let them know they are welcome on campus, they are free to organize and hold meetings, so long as they uphold university regulations,” Benjamin-Alvarado said. “UNO is a very diverse campus, and the challenge is to more effectively include all students in the Maverick way of doing things. We don’t run away from it. I think the Maverick way at UNO, we’re extremely proud that we don’t try to deny the existence of politics.”
Moving forward, students are advised to share any information they have about this flier with Public Safety by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-554-2648.