The presence of white supremacy is no longer limited to Patriot Front stickers posted around Chapman University’s campus. A current Chapman law school student has been outed as an active white supremacist by the left-wing protest movement Antifa.
Antifa has been sending out posters plastered with various pictures of the Chapman student, identified as a member of the American Identity Movement, formerly known as Identity Evropa. The group has been involved at other sites in the same kind of vandalism as Patriot Front on the Chapman campus.
While Dean of Students Jerry Price said the actions attributed to this student by Antifa were “deplorable,” no one has proved he has done anything to merit being removed from Chapman.
Minority students on campus also find the law school’s student’s presence on campus upsetting, but no surprise.
The Chapman law school student identified as an active white supremacist has not responded to several requests for comment by this magazine.
The student has been a member of the nationally-known conservative student group the Federalist Society at the Fowler School of Law. He even served on its board up to this semester.
Michael Wimberley, a former Federalist Society chair who served on the board with the student, said that the two did talk occasionally at group events but that the alleged white supremacist views were never brought up.
After the student was outed, he took down all his social media posts. His Facebook post had showed him with a wife and their baby. Nothing on Facebook indicated his racist views.
But according to the left-wing group, the Chapman student posted in an online chat platform using a pseudonym and expressing anti-Semitic and racist views. He mentioned classmates on several posts, with one saying he could not be friends with a woman in his class because she had a “mulatto” son.
Other posts show him bragging about spreading Identity Evropa stickers across campuses in Southern California, but he says that he actively avoids spreading propaganda at his own university. In other messages, he gives advice on how to do this without getting caught.
Dean of Students Jerry Price was shocked enough about that information that he conducted his own investigation.
“We have reviewed the content posted and find the racist and anti-Semitic comments attributed to this individual to be deplorable,” said Price in the statement.
But deplorable doesn’t mean the university can do anything about it, he said.
Price said that there are no grounds for punishment because the student has not been known to violate the law or Chapman’s Student Conduct Code. After administration and law enforcement investigated the online chat rooms and comments, they determined that the student was not inciting violence, making threats, or planning a riot.
After fliers were plastered around campus exposing the alleged American Identity Movement member, questions arose concerning how Chapman defines and handles white supremacy. Photo by Torian Mylott.
Wimberley of the Federalist Society was surprised to learn about his fellow law student.
“I and the members are and were disgusted and dismayed by what was uncovered online,” said Wimberley. He was unaware of the alleged views until the online messages surfaced over the summer.
“He certainly never brought them to Federalist Society meetings because the antisemitism and white supremacist views are antithetical to everything that the members stand for,” said Wimberley about the student’s actions as a board member of the group.
In the meantime, Chapman has also been investigating the vandalism caused by the group Patriot Front. Initially, it has placed stickers in September over the top of flyers promoting a Latino exhibit on campus. But Price said more stickers have showed up even since then.
“We have been scouring through trying to find any images that would give us any hope of identifying who it is,” Price said.
The school has been looking through security footage, but none of the images have been useful in identifying a suspect.
Public Safety would not comment on the investigation, as it is ongoing.
As for the law school student targeted by Antifa, Price would not confirm the student’s identity, but he did verify that the alleged American Identity Movement member is still enrolled at Chapman. Administration has checked in with the student throughout the semester after he received threats online. Because of such threats, this magazine has also decided not to use his name.
Some minority students on campus felt the impact of the student’s online comments but were not surprised about a white supremacist on campus. Ramya Sinha, sophomore business major and president of the Black Student Union (BSU), said that she was more shocked by the lack of response from Chapman administration.
“[The administration] gets caught up in their image and wanting to do what’s best for their image and the school, rather than thinking about the lives of minority students and students who are impacted by stuff like this,” Sinha said.
The school sent out a statement denouncing the Patriot Front stickers on Sept. 16, but did not mention the law student or any white supremacist on Chapman’s campus.
Sinha believes that the school’s actions contradict their mission statement on diversity, the “We Are Chapman” project, and the wall of diversity quotes in Argyros Forum.
Olivia Harden, a recent Chapman graduate, wrote a blog post about her personal experience at the school and its controversies.
“How do you expect black students to stay when you’ve put no precautionary measures in place to make students feel safe?” Harden said in the post.
Education can do a great deal to change racist attitudes, said Sinha, but Chapman has a long way to go.
“I think a lot of people here are very ignorant – they don’t know what they don’t know,” Sinha said.
Matthew Ghan, senior communications studies major and development intern for the Hillel Foundation of Orange County, agreed with Sinha that students need to be educated about white supremacy.
“In moments like this, the Jewish community must stand up together and not let hate defeat us,” said Ghan. He also said that Hillel has programming on campus to educate the community.
Price believes that education will make a difference, which is more valuable to the university than punishment. He mentioned the forums and discussions he held on white supremacy but said that students can do more to make their message known, citing the actions of BSU to the Birth of a Nation poster controversy earlier this year.
“[Black students are] like 1% [of the campus demographic]. We can’t educate the whole campus,” said Sinha. She said Chapman could bring in more speakers qualified to speak on diversity.
Harden also commented on Price’s philosophy that students should step up to act.
“The answer always goes back to — well, what are YOU ALL going to do about changing the climate on this campus? That’s not our job,” said Harden. She wrote that the administration consistently points to free speech as their reasoning for not taking a clear stance.
Hovsep Chaparian, a law student and the current president of Chapman’s chapter of the Federalist Society, said that the group focuses on constitutional issues and does not support white supremacy in any way.
Chaparian said that he does know the student and first approached him when he noticed his “marine-looking” haircut. As a current member of the Marine Corps, Chaparian asked about his military experience. While this was the only full conversation between the two, Chaparian acknowledges the student in passing on campus and said that many people do not try to isolate him.
Ostracizing the student worsens the situation and is not beneficial for anyone involved, said Chaparian.
Chaparian was Facebook friends with the student when a post about the online comments circulated. He went on the student’s profile to see the comments for himself, but everything had been deleted.
Chaparian said the student tends to be a loner but was close to another law student, who Chaparian could not identify by name. However, they do not talk anymore after the post circulated.
Price said that people join white supremacist organizations to find a sense of acceptance that they have not found in other communities.
“I am nervous about further emotionally and psychologically expelling people who feel this way. I believe they can change their position, but you do it by trying to win them over as opposed to ostracizing them further,” said Price.
White supremacy at Chapman now goes far beyond stickers around campus — it is on the mind of at least one Chapman law student. Amidst a national rise in racist attitudes, Chapman has identified one of its own as a member of a white supremacist organization.