Letters: CSU should not shield students from hate speech

Guest Author

WARNING: this video contains strong language. Students gather around the stump to listen to a preacher on the free speech Plaza on CSU campus Thursday, Sept. 30, 2018. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

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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. Allec Brust is the former Opinion Editor for the Collegian. 

This is a response to “CSU needs to protect students from hate speech” published Sept. 4.

Condoning the irrational and narrow-minded speakers on the plaza is surely not on the agenda of any Colorado State University student, except perhaps the small pool that might agree. 

No—I do not condone this behavior, however, the University should not do anything to make it stop.

The letter written by sophomore Madi Smith this week was well written and exposes her passion for freedom of expression. However, I disagree with Smith’s hypocritical thesis. 

Smith wrote, “The University needs to more closely monitor the people coming to speak on campus to protect students from hate speech.” My issue with this statement is that monitoring speech is inhibiting free speech.

Evangelist Myrna Bennett preaches her beliefs on the stump to a crowd in the CSU plaza. Bennett is with Campus Ministry USA, and travels with others in her group to preach on various college campuses. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

First, the Plaza is a hub for free speech. Its title as a free speech zone was actually removed a few years ago thus allowing free speech on the entire University. What a powerful thing that is. Anybody can say what they want, the same way others can argue if they want. 

The problem that Smith identifies is that sometimes individuals such as Brother Jed and his accomplice (who Smith refers to as the 27-year-old virgin) preach unsavory opinions that can be harmful. While that might be true in Smith’s opinion, nobody can say that what the preacher and his partner was wrong because it was their opinion. It is free speech.

Let’s keep the crazy, sexist, bewildering speakers on the Plaza. The world is not a safe space, and CSU should not be enforcing the idea that it is. 

This University has done an amazing job making people feel welcome on campus, in my opinion. If CSU were to remove something because it makes people uncomfortable, it would be a huge middle finger to education.

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The harsh reality is that people like Brother Jed exist. They will not disappear from the earth just because we start to monitor their behavior on campus. 

The world is not a safe space, and CSU should not be enforcing the idea that it is. 

Building CSU into a soft and cuddly university just because people feel uncomfortable might seem super rad right now, but it would do no good in the future if students are faced with real issues.

Brother Jed sucks. I have personally spoken with him and other faith-based speakers about our disagreements. If he was not allowed to speak, I wouldn’t have the chance to preach my stance and maybe teach him something about the world.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, that is what makes the world a beautiful and free place.

While Madi Smith may have come out of that experience shaken, she was able to form an opinion. That is awesome. If people on the Plaza only preached widely accepted viewpoints, the Plaza would be a very boring place. 

-Allec Brust 

Senior journalism and political science major

The Collegian’s opinion desk can be reached at letters@collegian.com. To submit a letter to the editor, please follow the guidelines at collegian.com.