College Republicans cause panic with immigration event
- The University of California, Merced College Republicans sparked an uproar on campus last week by holding signs promoting immigration enforcement.
- Students and administrators objected vehemently to the display, protesting that UC-Merced is a "sanctuary campus" and openly pondering whether the conservative students could be punished for expressing their right to free speech.
Following a weekly University of California, Merced College Republicans (UCMCR) immigration event, students, community members, and even members of the college administration made their displeasure known—some even resorting to violent threats.
Members of UCMCR tabled on campus March 6, holding signs reading “ICE ICE Baby” and “I Love Undocumented Firearms,” along with the telephone number for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Public outcry to the event was almost instantaneous. Student protesters arrived on scene shortly after the event began, chanting “Immigration not deportation” and carrying both a Mexican-LGBTQ combination flag and a Transgender flag.
According to the Merced Sun-Star, UCM Chancellor Dorothy Leland stated that the signs “disturbed many of us,” violated the school’s Principles of Community, and were “clearly intended to create an unwelcome environment for our nearly 600 undocumented students.”
Students, faculty, and community members sounded off via Twitter.
Katelyn, an apparent UCM student, tweeted a screenshot of a Snapchat post that appeared to threaten UCMCR by posting a picture of a UCMCR member at the event along with the caption, “10 screenshots and I’ll punch him.”
“I’m really ashamed at my alma mater today. @ucmerced is a sanctuary campus and should be much better at encouraging free speech but letting students know when they’ve reached the zone of hate speech & endangerment of other students!” Oovoo Javer, a UCM alumna, tweeted.
Emily Crosales, another alleged UCM student, tweeted pictures of the event, writing, “THIS CAN’T IN ANY WAY BE OKAY,” while an individual known only as “that bald queer” tweeted, “@UCMercedOSL will you continue to protect racists, xenophobia, white supremacy, and violence on our campus????? Will you hold yourself accountable for the violence you perpetuated today?”
“For anyone who wants to know: the @ucmerced college republicans table every Tuesday from 10:30 - 2pm on scholars lane to spew their hate speech. Use this info as you wish,” the individual continued in another tweet.
“Our admin have committed to helping protect undocumented students as a sanctuary campus. Yet, it’s unclear what that protection looks like,” Dr. Whitney Pirtle, a UCM Assistant Professor of Sociology, proclaimed in a series of tweets bemoaning the fact that CR members “tabled to promote immigration enforcement.”
“I condemn this action. It incites fear and anxiety in our students, and does not uphold the Principles of Community,” she added.
Pirtle also noted that "last semester I saw many students in distress after Trump was elected and after his threats to end DACA."
Members of UCMCR told Campus Reform that they were shocked by the reaction, noting that they were simply exercising their right to free speech.
“The event was our weekly tabling every Tuesday. The purpose of the event is to promote our organization to the students of UC Merced,” UCMCR President Harrison Duran told Campus Reform. “Everyone went nuts. A protest formed in front of our table and the police were called in to make sure no one was getting physically violent.”
“From the students to the staff and professors at UC Merced, insults were thrown, there were calls to have our club shut down, there were personal physical threats, and threats of expulsion,” elaborated another UCMCR member, who wished to remain anonymous.
“Free speech is the foundation of an open society. A university is where someone challenges their beliefs by being exposed to differing ones,” Duran stated. “ICE maintains order and ensures that the rights of citizens do not come after the rights of those from a foreign nation.”
“It pains me deeply that many young people think freedom of speech should be eliminated,” added UCMCR Vice-President Devon Hunter. “Sanctuary states flaunting their disregard for federal law, and in some cases, intentionally obstructing the enforcement of these laws is deeply disturbing.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @rMitchellGunter