UPDATE: Pro-life flyers torn down at American University
UPDATE: It appears that the member(s) of @aujusticeleague have deleted their account.
UPDATE 2: Alex Smith, Chairman of the College Republicans National Committee, contributed the following statement to elaborate upon Hurley's initial comments:
"A campus should be an environment where diverse opinions are not only welcomed, but encouraged. Unfortunately, for liberal university professors, administrators, and organizations, this ideal applies to everyone but center-right groups on campus and, most prominently, to College Republicans. The Left, however, has undoubtedly overplayed its hand over the years. Not only do most millennials identify as independents, but this is also the most pro-life generation since Roe v. Wade. It's no wonder that liberals' tactics have gotten more extreme; when indoctrinating students through the classroom isn't working anymore, it's only natural that they would resort to this type of bullying to achieve their ends."
Pro-life flyers posted by the College Republicans group at American University were torn down last night by an anonymous group, which then bragged of its exploits on Twitter.
Sam Shumate, vice president of American CR’s, told Campus Reform that about five members of his group went around campus Wednesday night posting flyers advocating for defunding Planned Parenthood, which he claimed student organizations are allowed to do without permission at AU.
At about 12:30 a.m. Thursday, a tweet was sent from the newly-created “@AUJusticeLeague” account with a photo showing a large pile of the flyers scattered atop an AU bedspread, while in the foreground the photographer makes a hand gesture traditionally reserved for obnoxious motorists.
“We had some fun with the college republican [sic] posters tonight,” the Justice League wrote teasingly. “Let us know if we missed any guys!”
Shumate said that the last of the flyers had been put up at around 10:00 p.m.—meaning they survived for about two hours at the most—and added the take-down job appears to have been quite thorough.
“I’ve walked around campus, and they got just about all of them,” Shumate reported. “I didn’t see any.”
Several CR members and other conservative students responded to the tweet, lambasting the group not only for its censorious actions, but also for hiding behind an anonymous pseudonym.
The first to engage was Andrew Magloughlin, president of the Students for Rand group at AU, who blasted the Justice League out for doing a “great job enforcing the patriarchy by referring to our entire aboard [sic] as ‘guys’ considering we're 5/9 female.”
Magloughlin went on to say that while he did not help to place the flyers, he does agree with their message that Planned Parenthood should be defunded.
“Your opinions are utter shite,” the group retorted.
“Too scared to release your name?” taunted Tom Herbert, treasurer of American CR’s, prompting the group to reply, “we would also like to continue our efforts in the future, so revealing our names would be slightly contrary, doncha think?”
Shumate summarized the incident precisely in a tweet of his own, writing, “Free speech at @AmericanU? Apparently not when @aujusticeleague tears down pro life [sic] flyers.”
Perhaps in an effort to contradict that narrative—or perhaps merely as a result of misinterpretation—AU Justice League retweeted a comment from Krista Chavez, president of the AU chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women, a group dedicated to promoting conservative values from a female perspective.
“The way to voice your opinion is not to tear others down but build yourself up,” Chavez wrote, garnering a sympathetic reply from a fellow student, who told her “[w]e may have fundamentally diff beliefs but I still won't stand for censorship/bullying.”
Shumate told Campus Reform that this was a common reaction, saying “even a lot of the liberals on campus have agreed that it was a really low-class, disrespectful move.” The general response to the incident “has been really interesting,” he added, noting that 86 percent of AU students identify as liberal.
“We were incredibly disheartened to see this kind of intolerance on campus,” remarked Carolina Hurley, Executive Assistant at the College Republican National Committee, in an email to Campus Reform. “Unfortunately, this is a growing phenomenon on college campuses where intolerance against conservative values has grown.”
Somewhat ironically, the flyers were taken down just two weeks after the Faculty Senate at AU unanimously approved a resolution reaffirming its commitment to the principles of free expression and rejecting censorship of controversial or unpopular opinions.
“American University is committed to protecting and championing the right to freely communicate ideas—without censorship—and to study material as it is written, produced, or stated, even material that some members of our community may find disturbing or that provokes uncomfortable feelings,” the faculty stated. “As laws and individual sensitivities may seek to restrict, label, warn, or exclude specific content, the academy must stand firm as a place that is open to diverse ideas and free expression.”
Shumate told Campus Reform that while he applauds the faculty for endorsing the resolution, the Justice League group—which is not listed as a registered student organization on the university’s website—evidently does not share those values.
“I think their tweets show how they aren’t able to even comprehend other views,” he asserted. “You don’t see the conservatives going around tearing down things that are very pro-choice; I think that speaks volumes.”
UPDATE: Kelly Alexander, Director of Public Relations at AU, provided the following statement to Campus Reform in response to the incident:
"AU works closely with student groups representing varied political and cultural beliefs and encourages all students to follow university protocol when disseminating information and to respect each others' views. There is no group named the AU Justice League that is registered at American University and AU does not approve of the behavior that was displayed regarding the recent removal of pro-life flyers that were posted around campus."
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