Flyers that include phrases like "stop the blacks" and "join your local Nazis" were posted around campus in recent days, raising questions about the motive and identity of their creator.
The Twitter account, @Illegal_Aryan, took credit for the signs, saying in an April 22 tweet that included pictures of the flyers, "Hey UPenn- Saaaaaaay N----R! #dayoftheflyer."
The account, which has 406 followers, features a bio that reads, "I'm a good boy, I didn't do anything." It also links to The Daily Stormer, a site that regularly propagates white supremacist material.
The Washington Post reported that the Anti-Defamation League has seen “an unprecedented outreach effort [by white supremacist groups] to attract and recruit students on American college campuses.”
In addition to the posters, green flags for the fictional country "Kekistan" have been sighted as well. The flags are related to a meme on 4chan's /pol/ board, a thread focusing on politics that has been credited for the surge in memes and viral online content associated with the alt-right.
At 7 p.m., the University sent out a message via email from President Amy Gutmann, Provost Vincent Price and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli. The statement stated that Penn, "strives to be a place that is safe and welcoming for all students, faculty and staff," and that "[e]xpressing hate or animus for any group of individuals is vile and reprehensible."
The statement also wrote that the administration encourages, "the exercise of free expression rights to counter misguided hate with stronger words of truth and mutual respect."
Penn Hillel President and Engineering junior Madeline Gelfand said she has received "enormous support" from the Office of the Chaplain and the Division of the Vice Provost for University Life.
"There's no punishment to be doled out, but knowing that the administration supports students who feel targeted by this and are uncomfortable and scared by this is really amazing," she said.
College freshman Justin Horn said he is “angry and scared” about what the ideology behind the signs represents, especially on Penn's campus, but doesn't believe they can be removed because, despite their hateful content, they still fall under the realm of free speech.
When asked about Penn's stance toward removing the flyers, a spokesperson for Facilities and Real Estate Services referred to the University's Guidelines on Open Expression.
According to the policy, "The content of student speech or expression is not by itself a basis for disciplinary action" and "No posters shall be prohibited or restricted solely on the basis of their content, except when they may violate other applicable laws or regulations."
The Division of Public Safety was not immediately available for comment on the content of the posters.