BLACKSBURG, Va. – A Virginia Tech teaching assistant called himself a white supremacist on Facebook and Monday night students and community members protested on campus.
That teaching assistant also reportedly threatened the student who first shared his post. The incident is being investigated by Virginia Tech police. Meanwhile, students marched through campus Monday night calling for him to be fired.
Monday night, hundreds gathered at Burruss Hall to call for the firing of a staff member at the school who calls himself a white supremacist.
"I think people are just more emboldened now. They see that they're protected and they can be openly racist now," rally organizer Ajnal Alami said.
So students at Tech got emboldened themselves and took their protest across campus. Students marched across the drill field to Torgerson Hall, where the Board of Visitors hosts its meetings in order to make a statement to the university that they're accusing of giving a "safe space" to white supremacy.
University President Tim Sands initially responded to the teaching assistant's post last month, saying "Our Principles of Community reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination and value human diversity. Yet, our Principles of Community and the U.S. Constitution also recognize the importance of free expression."
But students say this type of expression shouldn't be tolerated.
"You can't have views like that and teach everyone, because you're going to have biases towards a good population of Tech," student Ashleigh Griffin said.
10 News also had the chance to speak with students who watched the protest but didn't agree with its message.
"Honestly I think they're trying to incite trouble. I think Morgan Freeman said it best, if you want to get rid of racism, we need to stop talking about it," student Caleb Candeto said.
But people in the protest say that's exactly how racism spreads.
"Ignoring it is giving it power. Ignoring it and turning a blind eye allows them to get bigger. If you don't see it, if you don't acknowledge it, they feel that they have no consequence," student Chera Longfritz said.
The protesters also say they're standing up for the student who initially called out the teaching assistant. A petition calling for the assistant's firing has now gained more than 4,000 signatures online. Students say they'll continue to protest until that happens.