UMaine PUBLICLY SHAMES College Republicans for Columbus Day comments in CAMPUS-WIDE EMAIL
The group responded by calling the email a "blatant misrepresentation" of its views and demanding a formal apology from the university.
The university responded to the post in an email blast, where it accused the group of "implying all indigenous peoples of the Americas are brutal savages" and proclaimed that the post was not "reflective" of the university's values.
After a Maine mayor expressed disapproval of the state's official changing of Columbus Day to "Indigenous Peoples' Day," the University of Maine College Republicans spoke out in support of the mayor via Facebook.
The University of Maine publicly shamed the school's College Republicans chapter in a campus-wide email after the group expressed its opinion about the Columbus Day vs. Indigenous Peoples' Day controversy.
Earlier this year, Maine Democrat Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill that officially changed Columbus Day to "Indigenous Peoples' Day.” Monday will be the first official observation of the newly named holiday in the state of Maine.
After Waterville, Maine Republican Mayor Nick Isgro publicly announced his disapproval of the change at an Oct. 1 city council meeting, the University of Maine College Republicans made a Facebook post, thanking Isgro for his comments and for "standing up to the Radical Left-Wing agenda,” as reported by News Center Maine.
"The most successful tactic of Communists is rewriting history and destroying our heritage," the group wrote. "WE must not forget the brutal societies that Christopher Columbus and other explorers discovered in America. These societies were corrupted by rampant ritual sacrifice and cannibalism."
After the group voiced its opinion, UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Life Robert Dana sent an email to the student body to "provide the University of Maine position on recent Facebook posts by the UMaine College Republicans on their private Facebook page."
"The positions reflected and reposted on that page are neither supported by nor reflective of the University of Maine's values and principles of inclusivity and equity," Ferrini-Mundy and Dana, who accused the College Republicans of using "15th-century Spanish war propaganda to dehumanize indigenous peoples, implying all indigenous peoples of the Americas are brutal savages," wrote.
"We fully understand that this sort of material is upsetting to many members of our community, and it does not align with our values or the stated values of the university,” the administrators continued. "UMaine is a community brought together in our differences, and some of our most highly held values are civility, inclusion, compassion, understanding, and respect. When those values are called into question by the words or actions of others, the reverberations are real and widely felt."
The email closed with an appeal to "free speech", an announcement that the university will be co-hosting "group discussions with Student Government on the roots of Indigenous Peoples' Day, and free speech as a community ideal," and an expression of confidence that people would celebrate “the historic, cultural, and contemporary significance of indigenous people across Maine” on Monday.
The student group responded to the email with another Facebook post, accusing Dana of "destructive behavior," and of having "created a hostile political environment."
"He clearly has no regard for the personal safety and wellbeing of the members of the UMaine College Republicans," the group wrote, adding that it plans to hold the dean "personally responsible" for any attacks or intimidation the group believes are caused by the email.
UMaine College Republicans also demanded a "formal apology" from the university for the "blatant misrepresentation."
Dana told News Center Maine the university felt that it needed to publicly call out the group because the university's "name was implicated in the post," adding "of course we had to express our value structure -- what we believe in, what we're doing here at UMaine."
"We support every student's right to free speech and to meandering through the marketplace of ideas," Dana added.
Campus Reform reached out to Dana and Ferrini-Mundy for further comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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