K-State responds to watchdog report linking new student organization to white nationalist ties

Kansas State University officials have responded to a watchdog report linking a new student organization on campus to a white nationalist movement.
In an email to KMAN Thursday, Vice President for communications and marketing Jeff Morris said the university has nothing in its guidelines to regulate against white nationalism and says America First Students is an independent student organization, not operated or controlled by the university.
Morris’ statement reads: “Kansas State University has a long and proud history of commitment to free and open inquiry, deliberation and debate in all matters. Every member of the university community shares in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, but the university cannot censor or punish student expression based on political viewpoint.
He says the university offers many resources to assist students, faculty and staff regarding the university’s values and freedom of expression to foster a climate of respectful dialogue. Read the university’s policy on student organizations.
Earlier this week, the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR) released a report saying K-State’s newly formed independent America First Students group, is the latest in a coordinated spread of a white nationalist movement on college campuses. It examined social media activity as well as conversations between the leaders of the movement. The IREHR says the group was formed out from what remained of the university’s former Turning Point USA group.
America First Students is pushing its “groyper” movement according to the IREHR report, which is the name of a group of far-right and alt-right nationalists and conservatives critical of the mainstream conservatism and led by political commentator Nick Fuentes, a YouTube personality and host of the America First podcast.
Current Manhattan City Commissioner Aaron Estabrook also published his own personal response to this week’s report
[Manhattan, Kansas is a welcoming place for young people to grow, families to thrive, and retirees to
return. Inclusion is key and a dynamic part of how we are able to be successful. From our commitment to
attracting the globally talented to our future investments toward empowering local entrepreneurial
diversity; Manhattan is bringing everyone to the table.
Just last month, the Manhattan Mayor read a proclamation that had the following line: “Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice, and opportunity for all, and challenged all
Americans to participate in the never-ending work of building a more perfect union.”
Manhattan will not hide from that call to action. While Kansas and Manhattan have come far, we will
remain steadfast in our commitment to building a more perfect union.
Our history speaks volumes. The resolve of Kansas to enter the Union as a free state sparked the Civil
War. Kansas volunteered a larger proportion of our population to fight and lost a higher percentage of our
soldiers to the cause than any other state. The first all-black infantry regiment of the Union Army was
organized in Kansas, and it went on to become the first unit in the United States to fight alongside white
soldiers. After the war, Kansas became the first to ratify the 15th Amendment.
The Kansas Historical Society points out that in 1921 the KKK fixed its eyes on the Sunflower State.
Their national chapter in Atlanta flooded Kansas communities with organizers. Within two years, there
were over 60,000 paid KKK members in Kansas.
William Allen White and Governor Henry Allen waged a courageous, two-front war on the vile hate
group (one legal battle, one in the court of public opinion). By 1925, Kansas made history yet again when
we became the first state in the nation to legally oust the Ku Klux Klan. One New Jersey newspaper
described Kansas as a “pyrotechnic display among the states. When other states were satisfied to let off a
few sparks, Kansas desired to light up the heavens.”
Ninety-Eight years ago, Kansas Governor Henry Allen said, “[The KKK has] introduced in Kansas the
greatest curse that can come to any civilized people. The curse that arises out of the unrestrained passions
of men governed by religious and racial hatred.”
This week the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR) released a new report
looking at how white nationalists are rebranding for 2020. The report identifies Kansas State University
as a target to test the rebranding envisioned by young white nationalists.
Author of the study, (IREHR) President Devon Burghart said, “To be fair, it could have been any
university town. No campus is immune to this sort of white nationalist infestation. In fact, in the report,
we identified 308 different colleges and universities targeted by the white nationalist group involved in
the “groyper” efforts. White nationalists have been desperately searching for entry points onto campus.”
It is important to understand fringe radicalism is not something that is invited but rather something that
attempts to take root when it is allowed to do so. We must remain steadfast in our commitment to
building a more perfect union. I deeply appreciate the commitment of Kansas State University and look
forward to standing strong together.] – Aaron Estabrook, Manhattan City Commissioner

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KMAN News Director and host of In Focus. Contact Brandon at Brandon@1350KMAN.com

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