DeKALB – Northern Illinois University student Timothy Ries always knew hate groups existed.
But it wasn’t until this week when it really hit home for Ries, after NIU officials found posters from a white supremacist group posted on NIU’s campus.
“Hate is everywhere, but it’s never been an issue near me,” Ries said. “I have a lot of friends on campus that are African-American and various races. It’s something that really bothered me. It’s upsetting.”
The university’s acting president, Lisa Freeman, said in a statement posted Tuesday evening on Facebook that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the group as a hate group.
“This has understandably caused concerns among our students, faculty and staff, as hatred is not something that aligns with the principles of NIU,” Freeman said. “I encourage us all, especially in times like now, to embrace civil and respectful discourse and continue to embrace and create opportunities that foster diversity, equality and inclusion.”
Posters have been found inside two NIU buildings – Barsema Hall and Swen Parson Hall – and are being removed by NIU police as they’re found, according to Freeman’s statement.
Ries, a marketing major, said all his classes are inside Barsema Hall, and he thinks the university was slow to respond to the issue, as he said posters were up inside Barsema late last week.
University spokeswoman Lisa Miner said no one has been caught putting up the posters, and NIU police administration Cmdr. Donald J. Rodman said in an email that the act of putting them up is not considered a criminal act.
In her post, Freeman urged students to report incidents of bias to the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Room 211, Altgeld Hall, by calling 815-753-8399 or by filing a bias incident report online.
Threats or acts of violence should be reported to NIU police at 395 Wirtz Drive or 815-753-1212, or by calling 911 in case of an emergency.
“This is extremely concerning,” Ries said. “Maybe not exactly with our safety, but the fact this is happening in the year 2017. There’s no place for hate.”