Stanfield: Leftist intolerance at CSU needs to be addressed

Arisson Stanfield

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

The fall semester has begun, and before we become bogged down in endless assignments and social drama, we as students should look at what mistakes we made last year to avoid making the same mistakes again.

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On March 29, the student coalition Students Against White Supremacy made their presence on campus known by disrupting the CSUnite demonstration, calling for the removal of Turning Point USA as a student organization on the basis that TPUSA proliferated “inherently violent ideas.”

This was a mistake. For those of us who seek to preserve public discourse and free speech, it is our responsibility to call such behavior inexcusable throughout this academic year and in the future.

Actions similar to SAWS’ disrupting the CSUnite event are inexcusable because they call for the censorship of an organization based on accusations and fear without providing substantial evidence for the claims being made. This is the textbook definition of intolerance and marginalization. 

One might make the case that TPUSA in particular is one that needs to be confronted. Turning Point USA has had no shortage of problematic rhetoric espoused by its members and accusations of racism have been levied at the organization in no short number.

Claiming that the presence of one racist makes an organization entirely racist is no more logical than claiming the presence of some minority students prevents CSU from being a predominately white institution, which it most certainly is.

We need to deal with potential radicals inside of TPUSA, but this can be done without destroying the reputations of all of its other members and forcing them into the shadows. Recognizing that some people within this organization are problematic does not justify the assumption that any member of its body must be a racist, sexist, misogynistic, heteronormative, patriarchal villain whose very speech presents a threat to campus culture.

Claiming that the presence of one racist makes an organization entirely racist is no more logical than claiming the presence of some minority students prevents CSU from being a predominately white institution, which it most certainly is. It is our job as a community to recognize that, at times, the part does not define the whole.

We have to trust that our fellow Rams will reject the intolerable actions and rhetoric of the organizations they identify with, to the extent that they are aware of such terrible occurrences.

We need not demand that these institutions be dissolved before we have given them a chance to be held accountable and reformed.  

In respect to last years demonstration, SAWS failed to do their job. By demanding censorship and condemnation before presenting proof that their fears are anything more than imaginary, they have only succeeded at further muddying the waters under which real white supremacists lurk and wait. In their mission to root out racism, they further deepened the divide between students of different political views and played right into the hands of their enemy.

What we cannot and must not do is allow students to be bullied off campus and into silence for accusations that have not been substantiated. We cannot allow far left or far right radicals to dictate the parameters in which public discourse takes place. We must not allow groups like SAWS to demonize their fellow students without criticism.

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We need to put forward a call to action to all those who identify with the left to show as much tolerance to those we oppose as they do with like-minded ideologies. It is our job, and in our best interest, to watch each other closely and to be critical of those we call allies politically and ideologically.

In this age of political polarization, we need to reset the left and allow for the emergence of the reasonable and tolerant minds. There are extreme leftists here on CSU’s campus who are a threat to the public discourse and the job of criticizing them falls upon us. Moving into the fall semester, let us remain vigilant of the threats to liberty in our midst to all sides.

Arisson Stanfield can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on twitter @OddestOdyssey