In the past year, Towson University has raised many concerns regarding the controversy surrounding the White Student Union, (WSU) and it's managed to get back into the spotlight once again. The group was founded by senior Matthew Heimbach, who now goes by the title "Commander Heimbach" and was previously president of Towson University's Youth for Western Civilization. This organization ignited controversy after reportedly chalking "white pride" at campus locations in early 2012. Shortly after the chalk incident, Dr. Richard E. Vatz, the college's professor of Rhetoric and Communication, resigned as the organization's faculty advisor. That caused the university to officially decline to recognize the group.
Later that year, Heimbach began recruiting for a WSU, which is currently considered a non-affiliated group. Once again, the WSU has resurfaced on Towson's campus with plans to conduct random nighttime patrols, which members say are for students' protection. It has been reported that members will attend gun ranges to 'prepare' their patrolling and will carry flashlights and pepper spray to conduct campus walks as a way to 'protect' students from crimes such as sexual assault, rape and robbery. The organization has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The group insists that its mission is to "create an avenue for people to participate in political, cultural, educational, and social events to celebrate European heritage," but after last year's controversy, I'm not buying it. Towson University is being used as a stepping stone to fame for this organization and its leader. I support positive campus environments because it cultivates the growth of the entire university community, but this is not the way to do it. If you think the WSU is doing this for the greater good, read this blog post from February 28, 2013 titled "Black Crime Waves Continues," which specifically focuses on crime alerts that describe black male suspects. If the WSU wanted to protect the campus at large, why not advocate against crime in general?
Exploiting the issues of sexual assault and violence is just an excuse to continue pestering the university. The events from this group has caused tension on our campus for months and the administration should do its best to finally put this to an end. There are valid concerns over Heimbach's actions that threaten the student population's safety and it should not be ignored. Every few months our college's name is tarnished because this guy wants to be famous.
On March 27, President Dr. Maravene Loeschke sent a mass email across campus addressing the recent news of a White Student Union organization by stating "The Division of Student Affairs continues to clarify that there is no established or recognized 'White Student Union' (WSU) on Towson University's campus. While a Towson University student attempted to form a recognized group in the fall, it failed to meet the university's requirements for gaining recognition. In response to the establishment of the "WSU crime patrols" at Towson University, Towson University Police Department (TUPD) continues to maintain their vigilance to keep our campus safe. The University does not endorse and strongly discourages patrols by this or any other student group."
As a way to highlight the university in a positive light, Be The Change Towson will host a campus walk and rally on Tuesday, April 2, 2013. Now that Towson is in the news again, I hope something is officially done because it's burning a lot of us out.
We are tired, we want peace, and we want it to stop. My recommendation? Take your white supremacist organization elsewhere and allow Towson to be what it prides itself in the most: its commitment to diversity.