CSU students question ASCSU Senate about use of student fees to bring Dennis Prager to campus

Stuart Smith

Several current and former Colorado State University students went to the floor of the student government’s senate Wednesday night to express their displeasure at the use of student fees to bring Dennis Prager to campus Oct. 29.

The Board for Student Organization Funding approved Turning Point USA’s request to fund Prager’s visit several weeks ago, allocating $13,999 to CSU’s chapter of TPUSA.

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The Senate did not need to be consulted on the funding, as Senate approval for BSOF proposals is only needed for amounts of $14,000 or more. TPUSA requested a dollar under the threshold.

Luce Stone, a junior anthropology major and employee at the Women and Gender Advocacy Center, was the first to speak about Prager’s upcoming visit.

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Stone, concerned with various views of Prager on the LGBTQ community, Islam and women’s issues, questioned whether bringing someone who has those views should be brought to campus.

“Free speech and debate are key parts of college campuses, but do we want to host a speaker that actively wishes harm towards people of marginalized identities?” Stone asked. “Is engaging in debate worth risking the safety and well-being of our queer, Muslim and female students, especially with the events of the Charlie Kirk event last spring, which brought Neo-Nazis to campus?”

Alex Scott, junior natural resources management, also spoke about his disappointment in bringing Prager to campus

“Having ASCSU splash their logo across Dennis Prager’s advertisements for his speech and his advertisements for his ideas is beyond the pale,” Scott said. “To ask these women who have survived sexual assault, who now have this trauma as part of this lived experience, to walk to class knowing that their money is being spent (to) bring a man who believes that women in marriages should never deny their husbands sex, that we should ignore sexual assault victims, that we should ban homosexuality because it makes culture great, is beyond the pale. This has been a systemic and moral failing by this body that allows this man to come to speak at our campus.”

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Later in the night, Sen. Tamera Breidenbach expressed concern about the event to ASCSU President Tristan Syron. Breidenbach referenced an incident at the final Senate session of the 2017-2018 academic year in which a member of student group Students Against White Supremacy alleged that a member of ASCSU had doxxed her online after TPUSA’s Communications Director Candace Owens visited campus. Doxxing is posting one’s personal information online.

“Do you want to talk about the elephant in the room right now?” Breidenbach asked. “Because those students coming before us was very disturbing, and last year there was already a student on our campus who was focused on and attacked by a member of Turning Point.”

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Syron responded there are certain things he considered unacceptable and that in the time leading up to the event, he would “try to set the tone that there are certain things (that are) unacceptable and take as much responsibility as (he) possibly can.”

Isabel Brown, president of CSU’s chapter of TPUSA, responded to the comments made in Senate in a statement to The Collegian.

“College campuses are institutions based on the free market of ideas, of intellectual challenges, and of growth,” Brown wrote. “We encourage all students, regardless of background or political affiliation, to not only attend the lecture but engage in productive dialogue with Mr. Prager.”

About the use of student fees to bring Prager to campus, Brown pointed to the recent use of student fees to bring other political speakers to CSU.

“CSU student fees have been allocated to RSOs (registered student organizations) through BSOF and ASCSU in the past for countless other political speakers, recently including Melissa Harris-Perry, former MSNBC opinion show host and left-wing political commentator, and Gina McCarthy, former EPA Administrator under the Obama Administration,” Brown wrote.

Assistant News Editor Stuart Smith can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @stuartsmithnews.