White Supremist group advertises on OWU’s campus

By Azmeh Talha

Arts and Entertainment Editor

Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) was one of six college campuses in Central Ohio that was targeted by a national white supremist group which is under FBI investigation.

On Nov. 1, stickers were found on campus including the academic side and Hamilton Williams Campus center, said Cole Hatcher, the director of media and community relations.

No stickers were found inside buildings. They were stuck on lampposts and signs, said Dwayne Todd, the vice president of student engagement and success.

Todd and Juan Armando Rojas, chief diversity officer and professor of modern foreign languages, do not want to name the group to prevent giving the group more attention.

“We’re not naming it because we don’t want to give them any additional publicity,” Todd said.We didn’t want to put the name of the group in the message. We didn’t want to link to their website because that just fuels them.”

“It’s not about them; it’s about our institution,” Rojas said.

The FBI sent a warning that the group was active in Central Ohio and was targeting college campuses, Todd said.

About 25 stickers were found on campus, Hatcher said. Stickers had white supremist messages on them such as “America is not for sale,” “Reject poison,” and “Stolen not conquered.”

Hatcher said the stickers appeared and stopped in a small window of time.

President Rock Jones held a meeting on Nov. 4 about the matter. Rojas said the meeting was productive and engaging.

“We know that similar or identical stickers have been placed on other campuses in central Ohio and the FBI in its investigation of the matter believes the stickers are being placed by individuals from outside of the campuses,” Jones said.

“The notice that the FBI sent us showed Capital University, Ohio Dominican, Columbus State, Ohio State, us … (and) Otterbein,” Todd said. “All those schools had images from the same group posted.”

The group hit both public and private college campuses, which created a tricky situation for law enforcement due to the differences in free speech rights.

Greg Naples, supervisory special agent of the FBI, said in an email that the group is “tied to a neo-Nazi racially motivated violated extremist ideology.”

As the stickers were being taken down, it seemed as if more were being put up in their place. Todd thought somebody was still on campus, putting stickers up as they were being discovered on campus.

“As soon as we knew what was going on, we were going around campus and removing them so I’m not sure the majority of students ever saw them,” Todd said.

“We would pass by a place where there weren’t any and we came back and there were some.”

Todd thinks that this was a national coordinated effort on the group’s part to go to college campuses. He also said this was a recruitment effort on the group’s behalf to draw younger people to visit its website and join the group.

FBI agent Naples confirmed that. His email stated the group is in the midst of a campus recruiting campaign by placing the stickers on or near campuses.

“They are all red, white and blue with various slogans and/or symbols,” Naples said in his email. “When a member puts up the sticker, he/she takes a picture then posts it on a PF site,”

Nothing of this sort has happened before on campus, Todd, Rojas and Hatcher said.

Hatcher recalled some graffiti on campus a few years ago and Todd recalled the Westborough Baptist Church, which is homophobic, coming to campus.

“In one case, I think it was just random scrawling and I think there was a small amount of graffiti after the 2016 presidential election,” Hatcher said.

“They (Westborough Baptist Church) were here once and then they threatened to come a second time but did not from what I understand,” Todd said. “I consider them a hate group but not a group that’s a white supremist group like this.”

Todd described the most recent incident as disturbing. He was disgusted that this happened on OWU’s campus.

“For me, white supremacy is not a new concept and I am not surprised it happened,” said Alexis Thomas, president of the OWU Black Student Union. “I am hurt that it happened, but also this is not anything new, at least for black people.”

Collective efforts have been made on campus. Todd said there has been a show of solidarity that the efforts of this white supremist group are intolerable at OWU.

“We had people fanning out all over, looking for these things and trying to show support to students and others and we’re planning an event,” Todd said.

An event called One OWU gathering of unity and support will take place on Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. at the labyrinth with the objective to celebrate OWU.

“To celebrate we’re here, to celebrate that we’re united and to celebrate our diversity, our inclusion efforts and to reassure everyone that if we’re here it’s because our objective and goal is to make sure everyone is embraced,” Rojas said.

Chad Johns, the interim Chaplain said The Chaplain’s Office is an interfaith office that serves students of all faiths or no faith.

“Whenever hateful and ridiculous ideologies like white supremacy arise, our response must be to stand firm against the lie that some people are superior to others based only on the color of their skin, their country of origin, their gender…” Johns said. “We choose instead to celebrate the beautiful diversity of the one humanity that we all share.”

Posters were put up across campus with slogans such as “Racism has no home here,” Hatcher said.

An email sent by Rojas to OWU students and faculty addressed the poster campaign.

“If anyone sees something like this happen, call Public Safety right away,” Todd said.

If something of this sort occurs on campus again, Todd said Delaware police will be called. If a member of the group comes back to campus, they can be charged for trespassing and can get arrested, Todd said.

Public Safety can be reached on 740-368-2222.

Student called from person claiming to be FBI agent

By Areena Arora, Managing Editor

By the time you’re done reading this piece, I might be in jail, arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or, I might be deported back to my homeland, India.

On Sept. 6, at precisely 5:34 p.m., I received a call from an Akron, Ohio phone number.

“Hello,” I answered.

“This is a call from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Am I speaking with Areena Arora?”

My heart skipped a beat. I trembled, “yes,” replaying the last couple of days in my head to recall anything illegal I had maybe done. None.

The person on the other end proceeded to inform me how this was a final warning call from the FBI, before I was to be arrested. He warned me that if I hung up, an arrest warrant would be issued for me.

After about 11 minutes of hearing him accuse me of defaulting on some sort of an education tax, I hung up.

I should have done so sooner. It was a scam.

I called and let both Public Safety (P.S.) and the International and Off Campus Programs Office know, who both reassured me that it was a scam, and that I needn’t worry.

But here’s the problem. The number the scammers called me from, was in fact a registered FBI Akron number. How could this possibly be true?

I called P.S. again.

Flash forward to two days later, I got another call. Same script, same arrest warrant threats, except this time, the call was from Delaware Police’s (DPD), non-emergency number.

P.S. connected me with Captain Adam Moore at DPD and a formal police complaint was filed; On charges of my scammers impersonating federal officers and threating to arrest me.

Here’s the lesson to be learned; If you get a similar call, do not panic. Definitely do not let them threaten you for as long as I let them (11 minutes!). Contact your local police, immediately.

Do not confirm any information. They might be calling just to ask, “Is this really your address/ your bank account number.” Do not say yes. Just hang up.

It doesn’t end here. Make sure you contact your bank, and change your generic passwords and ATM pins, as a precautionary step. Update all your social media profiles to heighten security and make as much information as possible, private.

The weirdest part about my scam incident was the extent of my personal information the strangers had and that unlike usual spam emails, they did not ask me for anything. For instance, they knew about my visa status, my employment and tax information, majors and my postal address.

However, simple psychology; they were trying to scare me. But in the real world, the FBI does not call people to arrest them; at least not without sending any prior warnings in mail. Even then, they do not threaten to arrest you should you hang up.

According to a P.S. advisory, “the FBI does not call private citizens asking for money.”

Hope my story serves you as a reminder should you fall victim to a scam like this. And if it does happen, take immediate steps. Laugh off the incident, like I did, but not before securing all your information and reaching out to the local police.

Additionally, you must also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov and/or with the local Attorney General.

For additional resources, contact Public Safety at 740-368-2222 or Delaware Police at 740-203-1111.

By the way, I informed my advisor the next day, and while he did reassure me that it was a scam, he also said if it wasn’t, he would visit me in prison, though he said he wouldn’t pay for my bail.