'What are they afraid of?': Student govt. rejects hosting anti-woke survivor of Maoist China

During an Apr. 12 meeting, the Associated Students of Whitworth University voted 9-4 against hosting Xi Van Fleet, a survivor of Maoist China, on campus and cited her anti-woke tweets.

'Those people who believe in lived experience, then they are going to get the lived experience from me because I’m not talking about an idea that I read or researched or studied,' Van Fleet says.

The student government at Whitworth University (WU) voted to reject a speaker who survived communism under Mao Zedong and criticizes woke culture for suppressing opposing ideas. 

During an Apr. 12 meeting, the Associated Students of Whitworth University (ASWU) voted 9-4 against hosting Xi Van Fleet on campus. Van Fleet immigrated from Maoist China to the U.S. and draws parallels between the Chinese Cultural Revolution and what she calls the “Woke Revolution,” according to a description of her book Mao’s America: A Survivor’s Warning. 

WU is a private Christian university in Spokane, Wash. 

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Grace Stiger, president of the Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter at WU, spoke at an earlier meeting about the organization’s intention to host Van Fleet. The planned sponsor for her speaking engagement, the Leadership Institute, is the parent organization of Campus Reform

The ASWU meeting minutes show Stiger describing Van Fleet as someone who “grew up in China during Mao’s Cultural Revolution.” 

“We want her to tell her story,” Stiger continues. 

Stiger says that, when ASWU members voted against Van Fleet during the next meeting, they objected to her tweets because they “were fearful of her bringing views to campus that would be hurtful or offensive.”

In the meeting minutes, the tweets in question criticize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Black Lives Matter, and other social justice movements. 

“What are they afraid of?” Van Fleet asked in an interview with Campus Reform. “Those people who believe in lived experience, then they are going to get the lived experience from me because I’m not talking about an idea that I read or researched or studied.” 

She says “that it is extra concerning that this happened [at] a Chrisitan college, which is supposedly more conservative.” 

WU’s free expression statement invokes Christ in its commitment to “truth-seeking.” 

“We take Jesus Christ as the model for engagement in public discourse and for exploration and expression of ideas,” the statement reads. 

To flourish, the statement continues, “it is necessary to hear from one another.”

Stiger told Campus Reform that “speakers [are] requested all of the time,” but “[TPUSA] receives way more questions and opposing votes than any other club.” The ASWU has similarly voted down proposals from other conservative organizations, including a 2019 request from Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to host Ben Shapiro. 

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Van Fleet says that she is “not surprised at all” and is “very familiar with what’s happening on American campuses–that they do not want conservative speakers.”

Those who wish to forbid her from speaking, Van Fleet continues, should learn from the history of Zedong’s rule. “When you cancel people now,” she says, “you have to be prepared to be cancelled later.”

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.