More Hate Speech Flyers in Penrose

Audrey Hecker, Staff Reporter

The recent discovery of hundreds of hate speech flyers found in Penrose Library was met promptly by Whitman staff. President Kathy Murray sent an email to the campus community on the issue, and library staff have been working to locate and remove remaining flyers

Dalia Corkrum, the Library Director, expressed worry regarding the flyers and ensures that the issue is being addressed by the college.

“It’s really unfortunate, but [the flyers] reflect views that certain members of our society hold,” Corkrum said. “They most certainly don’t support the views of the college or higher education at large … I really hope and believe that members of the Whitman community understand our commitment to providing a safe space for intellectual pursuit and study.”

The flyers themselves vary in content. Most of them “provide a URL to [sites that] espouse white nationalist points of view,” Corkrum said. Others depict racist caricatures and anti-Semitic messages.

“I was shocked the first time, and I am disgusted every time I see the flyers,” Alzada Tipton, Provost and Dean of the Faculty, said. “I hope that the whole college community commits to being alert in the library for the person distributing the flyers, if in fact this is an activity that is continuing.”

This isn’t the first time that these flyers have appeared at Whitman, nor is Whitman the first school to be targeted.

“These particular flyers started showing up [at Whitman] 10 years ago, and it’s been very sporadic,” Corkrum said. “I’ve talked to a lot of my colleagues around the country [at] liberal arts colleges and they are facing the same kinds of things … It’s not just us.”

Given the recurrence of this issue, it is unclear whether or not the most recent flyer discoveries were put there recently.

“I feel like some of this [activity] may be a little bit newer,” Corkrum said.

Kazi Joshua, the Dean of the Students, expressed concern for the effect this news may have on targeted groups.

“We want to be clear to anybody who may feel any degree of anxiety or worry: come to the Dean of the Students office, go to the counseling center,” Dean Joshua said. “I don’t want people to walk around fearful that some great harm is going to happen them … they should go to school, they should study.”

These effects extend beyond the Whitman community, as Penrose Library is open to the public as well as students.

“We are open to the public … [so] anybody can walk into the library and do their work, [and] we think that should continue,” Dean Joshua said. “So … increased vigilance around where these things have been found [is important].”

Due to the fact that Penrose is open to the public, the task of tracking the perpetrator is difficult and something the college has not pursued. However, they are working to keep the community informed, clear out books with these flyers in them, and remain watchful of areas in the library where flyers are accumulating the most.

“My own sense of this is that [the flyers are] being placed for shock value,” Corkrum said. “And we don’t welcome them, so we do whatever we can to get rid of them.”

Dean Joshua shares similar sentiments, and ensures that the college is dedicated to properly addressing this issue.

“These are very serious matters,” Dean Joshua said. “The college is committed to making sure that we provide conditions of safety — clearly diversity and inclusion are crucial to our work going forward — so this is something that we are taking seriously and paying close attention to.”