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Saturday, Dec 2, 2023

White Nationalist Propaganda Found in Library

Davis Family Library staff discovered white nationalist propaganda in the library shelves over spring break. Papers were interspersed throughout sections relating to queer studies, the Holocaust, the civil rights movement, Judaism and Islam and resembled historically accurate Confederate bills, but were altered to include two Bible verses and multiple images of the Star of David. 

The Community Bias Response Team informed the campus of the event in an email from chief diversity officer Miguel Fernández.

The incident was one in a series of related incidents in Vermont, New York and New Hampshire. 

Identical pieces of propaganda were found in the Saratoga Springs Public Library last August, a week after white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia violently protested the removal of a confederate statue by emulating Nazi marches. The Charlottesville event culminated in a white supremacist driving his car into a crowd and killing one opposing protester and injuring several others.

In the months since, similar materials have been found in the libraries of the University of Vermont and Southern Vermont College, in the Rutland Free Library and on cars in West Lebanon, New Hampshire.

“I assume it was an outsider,” said David Evans, president of Southern Vermont College. 

Fernández echoed this sentiment, although he is not involved in the ongoing investigation. Elizabeth Burchard, the college’s director of public safety, said no suspects have been identified.

“We’re working with other area colleges who’ve had similar incidents involving stickers. The incidents in Burlington are being investigated by law enforcement,” Burchard said. Public Safety notified Middlebury law enforcement of the incident as well.

The bias response team sent its last bias report to the student body in October. It outlined two incidents in which faculty and students were verbally assaulted with racist language. The preceding incident occurred in May, when a homophobic slur was keyed into a faculty member’s truck. 

“This [incident in the library] feels different,” Fernández said. “It was a targeted, planned event that mirrors events on other campus libraries. Previous events we have dealt with on our campus seemed much more spontaneous.”

The library is currently open to the public during designated hours. The staff have been instructed to call public safety or the police if they see suspicious activity and phones are located within workspaces for this reason. 

Michael Roy, dean of the library, did not have any comment on increasing the security of the library.