A prospective White Student Union at Towson University added to its own controversial history when it brought an advocate for white interests to speak Tuesday at the group's first meeting.
Jared Taylor, editor of the "racial realism" online news site American Renaissance, said he hoped to spread a message about the importance of racial separateness.
"I believe in complete freedom of association, and when given that choice most people prefer the company of people of their own race," said Taylor, when reached by phone Wednesday. "We're always being told to celebrate diversity and I think diversity is a source of tension."
Many people, including a Patch reporter and other media, were denied admission to the Tuesday night event by campus security after the venue, which holds about 200, filled to capacity. Still, about 50 individuals stood outside the doors as Taylor spoke.
Taylor said his presentation centered around his support for the White Student Union and speaking out against diversity. He acknowledged that the audience reception was lukewarm—"some liked it, some didn't."
The White Student Union began recruiting members at Towson University a few months ago.This occurred shortly after Youth for Western Civilization, a group headed by current White Student Union President Matthew Heimbach, disbanded following allegations that its members scrawled "white pride" in chalk at locations around campus.
Youth for Western Civilization's faculty advisor Richard Vatz, who is also a Patch blogger, resigned from his post after the chalk-writing incident, noting in his resignation letter that he "cannot in good conscience advise a group that attacks people or groups personally or tactlessly or does not recognize their dignity and the value of dignified argument in the marketplace of ideas."
Heimbach, who did not return calls for comment on this article, previously said both groups were about celebrating white heritage and advocating for white interests, not supremacy.
"It's a spectacular double standard that only whites are singled out and told they can't have a race-based organization," said Taylor, who argued that the group is necessary as demographics change making whites a minority.
Taylor said he presented evidence showing problems raised by diversity, such as data indicating that approximately 100,000 job grievances are related to racial matters. He also pointed to racial riots that occur in prisons. Taylor empathized with whites who felt the need to join gangs in prison because he said there are many black and Hispanic gangs existing outside of prison whose networks extend to jails.
But he did admit there was one benefit to diversity.
"I do enjoy ethnic food," he said.
Many attendees were not impressed with Taylor's presentation.
During his speech, Taylor said several people sneaked inside the venue through a fire escape and shouted an obscenity at him. Gay Pinder, a Towson University spokeswoman who was in attendance, said she just heard one person yell at the end of the presentation. She said the individual left through the rear door immediately after making the proclamation.
"It was generally a well-behaved crowd," Pinder said.
Raymond Winbush, the director of The Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University, said the presentation was deceptive.
"[Taylor's] lying," said Winbush, who is black. "He's good at manipulating words and says he's not racist. It's like the white collar Ku Klux Klan."
Towson University senior Ignacio Evans, who is also black, thought Taylor was well-spoken but called his speech "absolutely disgusting."
"He was eloquent, put together, but inherently racist," Evans said. "He was very anti-diversity and made assertions that people of color are inferior."
Taylor dismissed the claims of racism as "name-calling."
"[Calling someone racist is] something someone will say when they don't have an argument," he said.
Frankie Knight, a white senior family science student who didn't know much about the White Student Union, came to the meeting after hearing about it from her professor.
"I thought it was very negative and very offensive," she said.
Knight and Evans both noted that Taylor said blacks are genetically inferior. He denied making the statement.
"I have said the races are different....there are unquestionable differences," Taylor said.
And Taylor was not without supporters. Johns Hopkins University engineering professor Dennis Nagle, who is white, said he believes there is truth to Taylor's teachings.
"He's got some interesting views on diversity that aren't popular," said Nagle, who was not able to get inside the event. "But he's got evidence and documentation to back it up."
The White Student Union is not a university-recognized student organization, but the group's leaders are working to make it approved. Because they don't yet have that status, the White Student Union had to book the Towson University venue for the presentation as an outside entity.