CSUF student gov rejects free speech education campaign
- The student government at California State University, Fullerton recently rejected a free speech resolution proposed after a faculty member allegedly assaulted a conservative student on campus.
- Opponents said there is no need for a campaign to educate the community about freedom of speech, insisting that allegations of a faculty member assaulting a conservative student during a political rally are a "witch hunt."
The student government at California State University, Fullerton recently rejected a free speech resolution proposed after a faculty member allegedly assaulted a conservative student on campus.
The resolution was originally proposed by Chris Boyle, president of the school’s College Republicans chapter, in response to an altercation between CSUF anthropology lecturer Eric Canin and CR members who were conducting a counter-protest during a demonstration against President Trump’s first executive order temporarily restricting immigration from certain countries.
According to club members, Canin had been following them around and taunting them about being “uneducated” for some time before attempting to steal one of their signs, at which point the students allege that he began to shove several of them. Video footage of the incident also shows Canin being restrained by a school employee while brandishing a clenched fist.
The resolution, a copy of which was provided to Campus Reform, notes that “the most recent presidential election has significantly impacted the political discourse on campus, often raising tensions between those with differing viewpoints,” and calls for student government to partner with the administration “to run a campaign during the 2017-2018 school year educating the campus community on the value of free speech and intellectual diversity.”
Boyle and other CR executives appeared at student government meetings on several occasions to advocate for the resolution, but were opposed by an unrecognized student group called Students for Quality Education (SQE), according to a press release issued by the CR chapter following the resolution’s defeat on April 27.
The press release claims that opponents “cited time constraints, unforeseeable ramifications, and lack of free speech violations on campus as reasons for voting against the bill,” but the “Core Principles” listed on SQE’s website suggest that the group may have had another motivation, as well.
In addition to its goals of eliminating all tuition and student fees, “preserving ethnic, women’s, and genders [sic] studies” programs, and “dismanlting [sic] the interlocking systems of institutional power that have led to a demise of the CSU,” the group also seeks to enhance “faculty working conditions,” vowing to “maintain solidarity with faculty, and develop strong student-faculty alliances.”
The Daily Titan reported last month that part of the debate surrounding the resolution concerned perceptions that it was intended as a “witch hunt” against Canin, with Tyler McMillen, faculty rights chair for the California Faculty Association Fullerton, declaring at the time that “there is zero evidence, apart from the say-so of the College Republicans, that Dr. Canin did any of the things he is accused of, and of which he has always categorically denied.”
Although the resolution does not mention Canin by name, and in fact contains no references whatsoever to faculty members, CR members made no bones about their desire for Canin to be kept off campus permanently.
“If this resolution is passed, we can ensure that any violence committed against any student on this campus will be met with a firm stance in favor of the student and not the attackers,” chapter Historian Keith Hickson said in the group’s press release.
“It is unfortunate to see Cal State Fullerton's student government turn its back on students who feel threatened by violence and intimidation just because those students are conservatives,” Boyle concurred. “This is why we as a club take a stand for all conservative students on campus."
Vice President Amanda McGuire, though, made clear that the resolution’s defeat was only a partial setback.
“I'm disappointed with my student representatives deciding to stand against our freedoms on campus. The CSUF Republicans is meant to be a voice for the silenced and for the students with marginalized political views,” she remarked. “Thankfully, our efforts along with those of other campus organizations like YAL and Students for Life have done extensive work to see to it that Canin would never step foot on campus again."
Campus Reform reached out to both ASI and SQE for comment, but did not receive a response from either organization in time for publication.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AutumnDawnPrice