#NotOnOurCampus event promotes inclusion after racist flyers posted at USC

Signs containing offensive language were spotted at USC Tuesday, Jan. 16. (Source: Twitter)
Signs containing offensive language were spotted at USC Tuesday, Jan. 16. (Source: Twitter)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - "Not on our campus."

That phrase represents so much more than a rejection of hatred after several racist flyers were posted on USC's campus last month, including outside the school's African-American studies center.

The message faculty and staff hoped to promote at Tuesday's event – inclusion.

"I felt immediately that this was something someone was putting up in a hate-filled moment I felt like it was targeted immediately," USC junior Tatiana Reyes said.

Reyes remembers how she felt when she heard someone posted racist flyers outside USC's Center for African-American Studies.

"I was heartbroken but not surprised, unfortunately," Reyes said. "Unfortunately, it's not something that is wildly unheard of."

She was one in a crowd of students who attended the "Not On Our Campus" event outside the Russell House Tuesday afternoon. Speakers included faculty and staff as well as the student body president.

USC President Dr. Harris Pastides also addressed the diverse crowd - aiming to hit home a collective message that racism and bigotry will not be tolerated on USC's campus.

Other speakers echoed that sentiment and urged students to speak up.

"If you see something wrong, whether it be racism, sexism, rape culture, you name it... anything that is wrong on this campus. If you see it, out of love, condemn it," said Malcolm Bevel, a doctoral candidate at USC.

Dr. Pastides met with several student groups in the wake of the flyers, but Reyes says she would've liked to see this kind of event sooner.

"I felt like it was necessary, but I wanted it to be sooner," Reyes said.

USC did release a statement in the immediate aftermath of the flyer postings, reading in part: "This is unacceptable and inconsistent with our institutional values. At USC, we strive to create a campus built on the tenets of the Carolinian Creed, inclusivity and respect for all."

But the physical presence, almost a month later, seemed late to some students, including Reyes. She took that concern straight to Dr. Pastides – and we asked him about it.

"One of the students just suggested that in the future they would like to see a more rapid response and we listen to our students," Pastides said. "So next time something might happen one morning, I hope not, but if so we might be back out at lunch that day."

Authorities are still looking for the person who posted those flyers. They say they're looking for what they believe is a white man in his mid-40's.

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