While walking to classes Monday, students saw stickers with “America First” and “One Nation Against Invasion” on light poles in Dame Mall. The stickers promoted an organization called Patriot Front.
Junior Bryce Listner saw a sticker above the doors of the student center and took it down. Listner reported it to campus security once he realized what exactly the group was.
“It is kind of upsetting to find that that’s getting onto our campus,” Listner said.
The group is known for having white supremacist views. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group is a white nationalist hate group that originally was part of Vanguard America until the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. The rally became deadly after a car drove into the crowd.
Thomas Rousseau founded Patriot Front in 2017, creating a manifesto and gathering a large following through the internet and rallies.
The manifesto states, “Our mission is a hard reset on the nation we see today— a return to the traditions and virtues of our forefathers.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the group believes that their ancestors conquered America and left it to them only. They support anti-Semitism and attempt to preserve what they believe their European ancestors wanted.
Senior Andrew Elixman said he also saw the stickers on his way to class and thought it was odd.
“It just kind of bothered me because I feel like something like that doesn’t belong on this campus,” Elixman said. “I feel like it kind of goes against our values as a campus.”
The same stickers were found on Xavier University’s campus in Ohio and on Northern Kentucky University’s campus just two weeks ago, along with graffiti and vandalism.
IndyStar listed Patriot Front as one of Indiana’s 19 hate groups. The group’s website states specifically that they do not do interviews with journalists.
Franklin College officials had not commented on the stickers at the time of publication, but Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students Andrew Jones sent out an email the evening of Feb. 10 stating that security had been alerted of the flyers and local authorities had been notified.
“Knowing that [responding] is a bit low on [the school’s] list is a bit weird,” Listner said. “Even a blanket email saying these are up and informing students. Some kind of acknowledgment would be better than what they are doing right now.”
Elixman agreed that there should be a response from the college.
“I feel like it would be a better idea to be more transparent about it, sort of bring attention to it and say ‘this happened and we don’t condone it,’” he said.
Listner received an email hours after reporting them from Jones, saying security noticed the stickers and flyers and took them down. He also said they contacted the group to remind them campus is a private property.
The college took further action by hosting a Zoom town hall and sharing a statement from President Kerry Prather.
"While it is difficult to insulate ourselves completely from these vile and futile attempts to divide our community, they are reminders that our commitment to diversity and universal respect and inclusivity on campus must be unwavering," Prather said in an email.
A similar incident occured in December where America First Union flyers were found on light poles surrounding campus property. Though they were on public property, those flyers were also taken down by Franklin College security.