This time of year, students at Texas State University are usually consumed with final exams and the upcoming Christmas break, and not much else.
But lately they’ve been confronted by a slew of new distractions: menacing anti-diversity fliers, protests and counter-protests on campus, sit-ins outside the president’s office and a petition urging university leaders to act.
The university, located 30 miles south of Austin, has roiled with a litany of tense incidents since the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump, an event some here say has let loose a climate of vocal protests and racist threats not seen in years. University officials empathize that no violent incidents have been reported. But things got so heated that University President Denise Trauth penned a 1,700-word open letter over the Thanksgiving break, assuring students they were safe on campus.
On Nov. 14, the body of popular student activist Travis Green, 22, was found in a campus stairwell, dead from an apparent suicide. Friends said Green, who was black and gay, hadn’t talked about the election or fliers and can’t attribute those events to his death. But his suicide deepened the pall on campus, said Russell Boyd II, 20, Green’s friend and co-founder of Black Lives Movement San Marcos.
“This campus has been on fire,” Boyd said. “It’s been very, very intense.”
The incidents began the day after the election, when fliers were taped to bathroom windows around campus, purportedly by pro-Trump “vigilante squads.”
“Now that our man Trump is elected and republicans own both the senate and the house — time to organize tar & feather VIGILANTE SQUADS and go arrest & torture those deviant university leaders spouting off all this Diversity Garbage,” one of the fliers read. University police are investigating that incident.
Protests and counter-protests followed, with pro- and anti-Trump supporters facing off around campus. Then, new anonymous fliers appeared, urging students to report undocumented immigrants to authorities. “We are entering a new era of law and order in this country,” it read. “Do your part to make such a change for the good!”
Nichole Black, 19, a freshman studying business, said several teachers discussed the fliers in class, asking students how they felt about them. “Everyone was just really confused why people would put up such hateful things like that,” she said.
Since the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center has recorded 1,094 hate incidents, dozens of which occurred on university or college campuses. In Texas, campus incidents have ranged from white supremacist fliers at the University of Houston in mid-November to a black Baylor University sophomore who was shoved off a sidewalk and called a racial slur the day after the election.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Rick Jervis