Late last week, an alleged Western White Student Union Facebook page was created and was subsequently shut down on Tuesday after widespread accusations that the page was a hoax.
The page was one of many "White Student Unions" that recently popped up across North America. Reportedly, approximately 30 U.S. universities and the University of British Columbia were falsely affiliated with almost identical pages.
He wrote, “So, guys. Here’s the plan: Make more of these White Student Union pages on Facebook for various universities. You don’t have to go there. Make one for Dartmouth, Princeton, etc. Go, do it now. If they won’t let it on Facebook, put it on Tumblr or Wordpress or whatever.”
The page was brought to the attention of Western administration on Saturday, according to Keith Marnoch, Western's director of media relations.
“There were a number of concerned community members, students and a few profs that brought this to our attention,” Marnoch said. “Our initial concern was that it was purporting to be a Western sanctioned group or activity, which it’s not at this point.”
On Sunday, Western News released an official statement urging community members to "contact either Campus Community Police or Equity and Human Rights Services to report behaviour that may contravene Western’s policy on discrimination and harassment."
Many Western students, however, expressed their outrage over the page on social media platforms.
“I was taken aback because I didn’t know if was a hoax or not," said Tanya Sahni, a second-year student in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies. "Even if it’s a joke it’s not really a funny joke especially with everything that’s going on right now with ... all the attacks physically and verbally that are happening against people of certain groups and minority groups and people of colour... I feel like this is the worst time to pull something like that.”
Marnoch and Campus Police could not comment on what the repercussions of this page would be for the students involved, if any at all. The page, however, was removed on Tuesday.
"Although we can't confirm it, Facebook likely acted on its own to remove them since some 30 other North American universities were faced with similar webpages popping up in the past week," Marnoch said. "Many of those have now been taken down as well without explanation.
Correction (Nov. 25 at 11:00 p.m.): This article misstated that Tanya Sahni was quoted on Facebook. She was in fact interviewed for this story in person. Her quote was also updated to include additional words but the substance of her quote is unchanged.