Amid ongoing racial tensions on university campuses across the country, an anonymous Facebook page called ‘Illini White Student Union” surfaced earlier this week.
The page was created in response to a Black Lives Matter rally that a student organization held at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana on Wednesday, a student told MSNBC on Saturday. The page said it was organizing “against the terrorism we have been facing from Black Lives Matter activists on campus,” according to The Daily Illini, a student newspaper.
“We weren’t surprised by the creation of the group, but we were surprised by how quickly the group was formed,” Karen Olowu, a co-lead organizer of the Black Students for Revolution, told MSNBC. “Historically, this happens when people of color gather to support themselves. This group [was] formed to to terrorize us.”
The university called the Facebook page “extremely disturbing” in a statement Thursday. It said the administration had asked Facebook to remove the page, which was taken down “within three hours.”
“Additional versions of the site have been created and subsequently removed. We will continue to voice our concern to Facebook, if the site resurfaces,” the university added in its statement. “We recognize the right to free speech, and we encourage you to exercise that right when you see examples of racism, discrimination or intimidation on our campus,” the statement reads.
As of Saturday, a page titled “Illinois White Student Union” was visible on Facebook. MSNBC reached out to the group via Facebook but did not receive a response.
In the statement this week, university leaders “committed to working harder to build a culture of respect and community.”
The University of Illinois incident comes amid racial tensions on campuses elsewhere. Protests and boycotts at the University of Missouri over the school’s handling of racial issues led to the resignation of top officials at the college. Prince University this week agreed to consider removing the legacy of Woodrow Wilson from campus after African-American student activists pressured the university’s president.