Nicole Parsons said she was fed up with her university's silence over a string of hate crimes on campus when she put up a sign in her dorm window that read "FUCK NAZIS YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE."
Parsons, a junior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told BuzzFeed News on Sunday that she decided to put up the sign after a swastika was drawn over a "Happy Hanukkah" sign on a resident assistant's door the first week of December.
"I thought maybe if I hang the sign up, maybe the person who drew the swastika will see it and see someone condemning their actions, even if the administration doesn’t do it," she said.
The university's highly promoted initiative on campus is called "Hate Has No Home at UMass" aimed at rejecting "all forms of bigotry and hatred." As part of its initiative, the university has documented 19 hate crime incidents on campus since September.
Parsons said she didn't expect the university to take any issue with the sign.
But a week after posting the sign in her dorm window, she received an email from a resident director asking her to remove the sign over "issues of inclusion."
"While Residence Education cannot force you or your roommate to take the sign down, I am asking that you or your roommate take the sign down so that all students can be a part of an inclusive residential experience, as well as having a respectful environment to be a part of here on our campus," Eddie Papazoni, a resident director at UMass Amherst, told Parsons in the email obtained by BuzzFeed News.
"I was in absolute shock," said Parsons. "This email tells me the university cares more about the feelings of Nazis than the safety of their students."
UMass Amherst did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News. But in a statement posted on Facebook, it said the university "rejects Nazis" but it is "sensitive to the use of profanity."
"A poorly worded email from Residence Life staff asking students to take down the sign does not reflect the values of the campus, and it should not have been sent," it said. "The university respects the students’ right to display the sign and it may remain up."
Parsons removed the sign because her roommate was concerned about the attention brought to their room. Parsons is moving off campus, a decision she made before the controversy over her "Fuck Nazis" sign.
"This makes me glad [the move is] happening," she said. "I’m definitely going to hang it in my bedroom. I'm going to keep the sign forever."