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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Demonstrators protest talk by conservative YouTuber

Photo by Jordan Johnson
Speaker John Doyle read protesters’ signs and responded.

“Would you say all trans people are mentally ill then?” Zelda Kieser, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, asked John Doyle, a conservative YouTuber. He replied in the affirmative.

Demonstrators stood outside a Young Americans for Freedom event Nov. 12 in Wehr Chemistry. The event was hosting Doyle, who has more than 122,000 subscribers on YouTube, to discuss leftist indoctrination. He focused on how he believed that leftist ideals promote subjectivity and relativism. The demonstrators held signs stating “Homophobia is not a Jesuit value” and “Transphobia is not a Jesuit value,” among others. 

YAF is a national conservative nonprofit that has a chapter on Marquette’s campus. Founded in 1960, YAF promotes ideas of individual freedom, national defense, free enterprise and traditional values, according to its website. 

YAF at Marquette is a group that educates “on the ideals of individual freedom, strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values at Marquette University,” according to YAF’s Twitter. The group helped organize Marquette’s annual #NeverForget project, which honors those lost in the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and has hosted celebrities such as Rachel Campos Duffy, a television personality featured on Fox News. 

The demonstrators handed out printed tweets from Doyle’s Twitter account and screenshots from his YouTube channel that Cory Forbes, a first-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences and protest organizer, said they took offense to. 

Fact check: everyone who experiences menstruation is indeed a woman. Trans men are not men. Non-binary people are actually part of the binary. Mainstreaming delusion is unhealthy and dangerous,” a October tweet by Doyle and printed by demonstrators read. The tweet was quoted in response to a tweet stating that not everybody who experiences menstruation is a woman. 

Iona McPeake, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the protesters wanted to make Marquette aware of the bigotry enabled by YAF and encourage the university to stop supporting it.

“As a trans student specifically, this is an extremely important issue to me,” McPeake said. “The speaker who was present openly denies who I am as a person and allowing people like that to speak with the backing of an organizational event makes Marquette a less safe place for me.”

Ryan Thom, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said it is important to continually and civilly resist events like this. 

“What is being done here, what is being allowed to happen on Marquette’s campus, is not only immoral from a Christian standpoint, but also irrational,” Thom said. 

Doyle said he was excited to see the protesters. 

“It means that what I’m doing is effective and reaching people, prompting the opposing side to take action,” Doyle said in an email. “I generally enjoy seeing people taking action for the things in which they believe.”

The speaker added that he felt the demonstrators were respectful. 

“I respect the demonstrators for attending the event without disruption and staying to ask their questions at the end,” Doyle said in an email. “I truly believe that they’re acting in good faith, despite our differences, and I’d hope that they’d extend me the same confidence.”

Matt Flanagan, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and treasurer of YAF, said he thought the demonstrators were peaceful and not intrusive. He said Kieser, who lived on the same floor as him in Straz Tower last year, told him she was disappointed in him. 

“She was disappointed in my being a part of bringing John to campus,” Flanagan said.

The treasurer said he was disappointed to hear that she felt that way and advised her to attend and listen to Doyle speak.

After Doyle’s talk, he allowed questions and answers from demonstrators and other attendees. 

Kieser and Thom both asked questions regarding the philosophical arguments Doyle used during his talk. 

Forbes said he emailed various members of Marquette’s community voicing concerns about the event, including University President Michael Lovell, vice president for student affairs Xavier Cole and Marquette University Student Government President Sara Manjee, among others. 

“Please consider taking action to make sure this is not the face that Marquette shows its students and the wider community,” Forbes said in the email.

Demetria Anderson, director of the Office of Engagement and Inclusion, gave the only response, Forbes said. 

Anderson said YAF followed procedures related to event approval and the opinion of guests do not necessarily reflect that of the university. 

“Through university-sponsored events and student organization events, Marquette regularly hosts events presenting diverse viewpoints from across the political spectrum,” Anderson said in her response to Forbes.

Forbes said he did not reach out to YAF with concerns about bringing Doyle on campus. He said a previous interaction with YAF went poorly and he did not see it being productive. 

Forbes said someone tore down posters for a previous YAF event and there was a confrontation. He said the person who tore down posters was ticketed by Marquette University Police Department. 

Miranda Spindt, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and president of YAF, said the person was ticketed for balling up the posters and throwing them in a YAF member’s face. 

MUPD confirmed the ticketing.

This story was written by Annie Mattea. She can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Annie Mattea is the Managing Editor of the Marquette Tribune. She is a junior from Grayslake, Illinois and is majoring in journalism with a minor in digital media and political science. She has reported at length on the demonstration policy, COVID-19, and numerous other on campus issues.

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