VUPD and university administrators responded to racist and homophobic flyers found at printer locations on campus Monday. The incident follows a number of minority-targeted events throughout the past year, including a racist slur found on a board in Buttrick last month, an external email attack over the summer, and white supremacist flyers found around campus last fall.
“The flyers appear to be promotions related to external internet trolling organizations linked to extremism, homophobia and racism. The university has instituted short-term measures to block this activity and is exploring appropriate technical alternatives to improve our ability to defend against such attacks,” Vanderbilt News reported.
Locations included Central Library and other academic buildings. VUPD and Vanderbilt University Information Technology (VUIT) are still trying to determine the source of the flyers.
“At this point, it appears the flyers were sent through an online service that claims it can reach printers all over the world– so this activity is not limited to Vanderbilt,” a university representative said Tuesday.
VUPD has also notified the FBI, the Tennessee Fusion Center, and Metro Nashville Police.
Dean of Students Mark Bandas and Vice Provost Melissa Thomas-Hunt sent an email to the student body to notify them of the incident on Monday evening. The email states that the FBI will determine “if the incident is possibly part of a pattern of incidents that have occurred on other university campuses.”
The Vanderbilt representative said that reaching out to law enforcement to find out if similar incidents have occurred elsewhere is standard practice.
Last January, an incident similar to Monday’s occurred, when some university printers started randomly printing anti-semitic documents. Additionally, other universities had also experienced the seemingly inexplicable printing in the previous months.
This story is developing and will be updated as the Hustler receives additional information from sources.
The full text of the email sent to students is below.
Dear Vanderbilt Students,
We wanted to make you aware that flyers containing racist and homophobic language have been discovered on printers in some locations on campus.
Vanderbilt University Police Department (VUPD) and Vanderbilt University Information Technology (VUIT) are working to determine the document’s origin.
The flyers appear to be promotions related to external internet trolling organizations linked to extremism, homophobia and racism. At this point, it appears networked printers that can be reached through the internet were targeted. VUIT has instituted short-term measures to block this activity and is exploring appropriate technical alternatives to improve our ability to defend against such attacks.
VUPD will investigate the matter and keep local, state and federal authorities informed during the investigation. Anyone with information on the matter is asked to contact VUPD.
VUPD has notified the FBI to determine if the incident is possibly part of a pattern of incidents that have occurred on other university campuses.
We condemn the views espoused in the flyers that are intended to be inflammatory and sow hate and division. If it emerges that those responsible are members of the Vanderbilt community, they would be subject to respective immediate disciplinary procedures: for students, through Student Accountability; for faculty, under Faculty Manualprocedures; for staff, by HR policies. Law enforcement officials will pursue any appropriate criminal prosecution.
Vanderbilt is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, and to providing a welcoming and inclusive community.
Mark Bandas, Associate Provost and Dean of Students
Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence