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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

McCOWAN: Our duty to care

Ben Shapiro made prejudicial comments on Twitter Sept. 20, 2010. Photo via Flickr.

After leaving our weekly Tabletop Board Games Club meeting in late September,two friends and I went to the library to catch up on some homework.

About an hour or so into studying, our friend gets a call on the phone and leaves the room. When she returns a few minutes later, she tells us that she had gotten a citation for disorderly conduct and was ordered to pay a $195 fine. After some tears, hugs and affirmations, she tells us what happened.

A student organization on campus called Young Americans for Freedom had been advertising around campus for a guest lecture titled “Defending the American Dream: The Case Against Socialism.”

Part of their advertising included posters hung up on light posts around campus detailing the time and place of the event. My friend disagreed with the organization’s conservative leanings and decided to remove the posters from the light posts.

Two national YAF coordinators heard about this and asked her why she took the posters down. One of the coordinators and my friend got into an argument and my friend threw the crumpled-up posters at one of the YAF coordinators. The coordinators filed a complaint with MUPD for tearing down the posters.

The Marquette student body tries to be inclusive, but with the actions of organizations like YAF, this seems like a façade.

Students are at their best when they act as the catalyst for care, whether trying to cure homesickness through student organizations or even just having a classmate share their notes for a missed class. These moments of human connection have made the Marquette experience one that I view as a blessing.

However, Marquette is not always such a compassionate place.

It can often be difficult for students to find spaces where they fit in on campus because of their race, sexual orientation or religion.That is why it’s crucial to create and maintain spaces at Marquette that welcome people. Doing this will work against systematic barriers of exclusion present in our society.

But with an organization like YAF, these barriers of exclusion can be reproduced instead of destroyed.

YAF’s national representatives decided to take legal action against my friend, a Marquette student — an act that required them to seek out MUPD.

From what I know of the situation, my friend tore down some posters and threw the pieces of paper at the YAF coordinator in a form of protest.

Although the YAF coordinators acted within their rights, filing a police complaint seemed like a step too far, especially for an organization that says it is welcoming of all.

YAF has also developed a list of national collegiate speakerswho have said some outrageous and bigoted things.

Dinesh D’Souza, a YAF speaker and former policy analyst during the Reagan administration, tweeted in 2017: “So Rosa Parks wouldn’t sit in the back of the bus — that’s all she did, so what’s the big fuss.”

Ben Shapiro, a YAF speaker and conservative political commentator tweeted in 2010 that “Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage.”

D’Souza has spoken at colleges like Texas A&M University and Shapiro has spoken at colleges like University of California Berkeley.

D’Souza’s remarks about Rosa Parks display a lack of compassion for Civil Rights leaders and Shapiro’s comments showed a disregard for the humanity of Arab people.

I had the opportunity to speak with the YAF chairperson, and she described YAF as seeking to welcome people with diverse opinions.

But the comments of these speakers do not align with the ideals that Marquette’s YAF chairperson espoused to me, nor do they represent an appropriate level of decency and compassion.

While I believe the chairperson is trying to work to make Marquette’s branch of YAF one that respects people’s range of identities — as she speaks highly of students from the Black Student Council who attended the guest lecturer event — the actions of its national organization contradict this.

Going into my third year at Marquette, I have experienced countless instances of compassion and love among different organizations, faculty members and students.

These moments have mostly come from groups that celebrate my differences, whether that be my blackness, my queerness or my love of board games.

But when these differences are disregarded or used to exclude people, the Marquette community fails.

YAF’s talk about respecting all people means little if its national organization funds speakers with bigoted comments and intentionally files police complaints.

Marquette students have a duty to uplift others because of their differences, not tear each other down in spite of them.

This takes work, especially at such a demographically homogenous campus.

To me, YAF and the Marquette students involved in that organization are not doing that work.

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