On the Thursday before break, we all got an email from Interim President Mauhs-Pugh informing us that someone had placed Patriot Front stickers around campus.
Patriot Front, if you don’t know, is a white nationalist group that spreads racist, antisemitic and anti-immigrant messages.
I was in class when I found out about the stickers and my professor took a moment to let everyone in the classroom read the email. I felt my stomach sink immediately.
Some people might not see stickers as a big deal.
They might not even see Patriot Front as a big deal, with only 300 (known) members across the country and only about 1,000 followers on their confirmed social media accounts.
But for students of color, it’s scary to know that this kind of presence is on campus, and we have no idea who is behind it.
It could be anyone.
It could be one of our classmates, the person sitting at the table over in Huden, the driver of the car that just passed by.
It’s not a secret, at least to many people of color, that this kind of thinking exists even in Vermont, a place that many might see as a safe haven of sorts.
And it feels obvious, at least to me, to say that this kind of thinking shouldn’t be present on our campus.
I know that some people feel that this is the political right’s equivalent to things like the Black Lives Matter flag we have flying on campus.
I know that some people think Castleton is pushing some sort of agenda by having this on campus.
But white nationalist stickers are completely different.
The Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t stand behind the message that anyone different doesn’t belong.
It feels like an open threat to me and to people who look like me. It feels like hard evidence that there are people on campus or in our community who don’t want people like me here.
It scares me, but it also makes me want to be louder.
To keep writing about the things I want to, to keep trying to uplift and support those of us in our community who might be more scared than I am, to do my best to share and amplify the voices of other students of color.
We haven’t heard much about this since.
No one has been identified as being the perpetrator, and it feels like it’s slipped from the minds of the Castleton community at large.
But I know it will stay in the back of my mind every time I walk across campus.