Students say CSU president compared Charlie Kirk to blackface, swastika drawings

One student said he was taken aback by the email.

Students at Colorado State University criticized the school's president for an email they say likened an upcoming Charlie Kirk event to various racist incidents around campus.

Students at Colorado State University are criticizing the school’s president over an email to students that they say likened an event featuring Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk to students who wore blackface and a recently discovered swastika drawing on campus.

In an email to the campus community on Friday, CSU President Joyce McConnell condemned instances of blackface being painted on students, as well as a swastika drawing on campus. She then proceeded to say that she “learned” Charlie Kirk was also going to be speaking on campus. 

“Blackface is racist and dehumanizing. The swastika is an abhorrent and abiding symbol of anti-Semitism,” the email states, adding that “acts of bias and racism are widespread across the country and the globe, but they should not be happening on the CSU campus.” 

”We stand firmly behind our principles of community and these acts and others violate our principles. We must come together, unanimously reject acts like these, and work on accountability,” McConnell wrote. 

In the next sentence, the CSU president continued, “We also learned Wednesday night that a student group exercising its First Amendment right to invite speakers to campus invited Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk to speak on campus on October 22 at the University Center for the Arts.”

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McConnell said Kirk has “sparked protests” at schools around the U.S. and that CSU is preparing security as well as additional programming. 

“We know that we must denounce hateful acts swiftly and powerfully and when we do things with negative consequences—such as when permissible chalked messages on our grounds were washed off—many of you lose faith that CSU is acting on its Principles of Community,” McConnell wrote.

She went on to say that “we know you are angry, frustrated, tired and sad about these events on campus. We are taking swift action.”

The email originally stemmed from outrage over CSU’s decision not to punish students who wore blackface and had the caption “Wakanda forevaa,” citing that the photo is within bounds of the First Amendment, according to NBC News.

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One CSU student, Dan Zdeb, interpreted the email as McConnell directly likening Charlie Kirk to nazis and racism.

“The email insinuates in my opinion that he is a Nazi sympathizer of some sort. This is extremely unfair to both Charlie Kirk and students on campus that agree with conservative values,” Zdeb said.

Zdeb said that he thinks the comparison is completely unfair and paints Kirk in a negative way and was taken aback when he saw the email.

“I am shocked this came from a university president,” he said. 

Another student at CSU, who asked to remain anonymous over the fear of backlash, told Campus Reform that the email did attempt to connect Charlie Kirk to the blackface controversy.

“I think it was a bad-faith attempt to paint a correlation between Charlie Kirk and controversy in general,” the student said. “The fact that it was in the same message as an email condemning racism doesn’t seem to be coincidental to me.”

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A third student, Ethan Burshek, said he doesn’t believe the president was trying to make that comparison.

“In my opinion, President Joyce McConnell has handled this whole mess admirably, professionally, and rationally. I don’t think anyone in her shoes could be expected to do any better. Any insinuations against Kirk or anyone else I don’t believe were intentional,” Burshek said.

Campus Reform has reached out to CSU but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @asabes10