Dem lawmakers call on WSU to shut down College Republicans
State lawmakers are calling on Washington State University to defund its College Republicans chapter after its former president was exposed for attending the violent Unite the Right rally.
In a letter to University President Kirk Schulz, 12 Democratic state lawmakers demand that the university “respond to hate speech and actions by revoking WSU College Republicans’ recognition, and receipt of state benefits as a Registered Student Organization (RSO).”
The September 14 letter comes despite the WSU College Republicans chapter issuing a public statement distancing itself from its now-former chapter president who attended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, as well as posts on the group’s Facebook page indicating that it has consistently condemned both racism and violence.
Nonetheless, three state senators and 9 state representatives praised Schulz’s response to Charlottesville, but took issue with his assertion that “individuals with those beliefs are not welcome in our community,” arguing that, through the College Republicans, “hateful beliefs were not only allowed a full voice on campus,” but were provided a “state sanctioned platform.”
“How can students or state employees at WSU trust that hate beliefs ‘are not welcome in our community,’ when WSU continues to provide an official sanction for the platform from which hate was spread?” the legislators ask. “These views continue to be provided that platform via official sanction of the WSU College Republicans as a ‘Registered Student Organization’” [Emphasis in original].
The Democratic legislators go on to demand that the school “withdraw official recognition” of the organization “until actions have reversed the climate and harm” it has caused, suggesting that WSU develop a set of standards to ensure that student organizations “do not contribute to a hostile climate for any other group of students or employees.”
Although the letter primarily focuses on the events in Charlottesville, it argues that “there is a record of hate speech and organizing using the platform provided by WSU though [sic] sanctioning the College Republicans for the past year.”
As evidence for this charge, the letter cites five student and local newspaper articles, one of which attempts to link the group’s new Iranian-born president to white supremacy, while another reported that WSU had cleared two students of harassment charges but never explicitly mentioned any College Republicans members.
While the letter claims that it’s intention “is not about taking action regarding a single student,” the three remaining articles focused exclusively on the former chapter president, whom the College Republicans were “appalled” with in their statement on the riot.
WSU’s vice president of marketing and communications refused to speculate about the university’s response, stating that it had only received the letter on September 19 and that Schulz had not yet read it.
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