Facebook Pages Purporting To Represent 'White Student Unions' Spark Backlash On College Campuses

PHOTO: The Sather Gate at the University of California, Berkeley is pictured in an undated stock photo.Getty Images
The Sather Gate at the University of California, Berkeley is pictured in an undated stock photo.

College students across the country are speaking out in response to Facebook pages purporting to represent “White Student Unions” on their campuses.

Phelan Simpkins, a senior at the University of Missouri, told ABC News he believes the "Mizzou White Student Union" page and similar pages are troll accounts created in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It’s sad,” Simpkins said. “Everyone is not a protester. Some people hide behind a keyboard and I expect to see more people speak out on their college campuses.”

Recent racial tensions at Mizzou forced the university's president, Timothy Wolfe, to step down.

The Facebook pages in question have not been verified as legitimate student organizations registered with their respective universities. Mizzou, Penn State and the University of California, Berkeley released Facebook statements saying the pages are not affiliated with their campuses and do not represent their values.

“It’s upsetting,” Brooke Jin, a sophomore at Penn State University said in response to the "Penn State White Student Union" page. "I personally feel the groups are incredibly insensitive."

Other students are complaining that the creation of these groups and the response by universities to remove the pages are a violation of free speech.

Spencer Simpson, a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, called the pages "a ridiculous joke."

“Fundamentally, everyone has a right to free speech but it should always be metered with passion, empathy and respect and something that makes a mockery of existing organizations and histories that exist as responses to oppression should be critically assessed,” Simpson said.

“Just because there is freedom of speech does not mean there are freedom of consequences,” Jin said. “People are going to be angry at the creation of these groups.”

ABC News reached out to representatives at the three schools and was directed to the schools’ Facebook page with the statement.

In a letter posted on Facebook, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks suggested the pages were part of a "national effort."

"More than 30 of such pages have been created around the country in the last week - which indicates that this page is a part of a national effort, and did not emanate from our campus," Dirks said in the letter, posted on the school's Facebook page.

Some of the pages of other universities targeted have since been pulled down.

A Facebook rep told ABC News it is not in a position to comment on all of these [student union] groups as a category, and cannot comment on personal user data or why a particular page was taken down, however they ask users to follow a set of standards which Facebook uses to assess reported violations.

Facebook said it will continue to review reported violations and take action when necessary.