Tusinski: CSU students find the perfect way to protest campus preachers — comedy


Collegian | Sophia Sirkoman

(Graphic illustration by Sophia Sirokman | The Collegian)

Dylan Tusinski, Collegian Columnist

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.

There is a holy war brewing on Colorado State University’s campus. It’s not nearly as bloody, violent or fierce as the holy wars of generations past, but there is a recurring theological battle that keeps propping itself up in Fort Collins and on college campuses nationwide.


Just over a week ago, CSU once again became the latest battleground in the ongoing campus preacher parade. The now-infamous campus preachers returned to The Plaza with a smattering of Bible-wielding, cargo short-clad, middle-aged white men shouting at students passing by on their way to class.

The preachers’ hateful rhetoric has caused widespread debate and controversy at CSU surrounding the notions of free speech and hate speech. In wake of the preachers’ arrival on campus last semester, the CSU administration tried to toe the line between hate speech and free speech, offering a lukewarm statement that didn’t declare full-blown support for the preachers’ right to be on campus nor for the student’s right to feel comfortable at their own school.

“The crowds surrounding the preachers seemed to become less about the hateful rhetoric spewing from their mouths and more about the various unorthodox counter protests from all kinds of students.”

The message from the administration to the school’s students felt clear: You guys are on your own.

That hands-off energy from the CSU administration has left the students in a unique position. Instead of counting on the school to handle the notions of hate speech and harassment for them, CSU students have taken a unique approach to fighting in this small holy war. Rather than fully engaging in shouting matches, bad-faith debates or ignoring the preachers’ hatred altogether, the CSU community has responded with comedy.

There is one prerequisite that all die-hard preachers have to fill: They have to take themselves incredibly seriously. Because the preachers are almost always armed with megaphones, it’s almost impossible to meet them on their own playing field. That predicament is what gave rise to a lighthearted, somewhat-mocking response from the CSU student population.

Over the course of the two days the preachers were on campus, students were busting out breakdance moves, posting memes, serenading the crowd with saxophone music, holding up a myriad of comedic signs and even dressing up as Spider-Man to do gymnastics around the preachers.

The tactics worked, as the crowds surrounding the preachers seemed to become less about the hateful rhetoric spewing from their mouths and more about the various unorthodox counterprotests from all kinds of students.

It’s a genius way to protest when you think about it. Rather than stooping to the level the preachers are on, engaging in debates the preachers themselves don’t seem to want to engage in or otherwise lending them credibility they don’t deserve, having fun with the situation is a much more effective way to protest the preachers’ rhetoric.

If nothing else, the counterprotests seemed to spark a sense of community that CSU hasn’t had in quite some time. Between a global pandemic, multiple divisive national election cycles and mostly subpar performances from almost all of our sports teams, there hasn’t been much for CSU to rally around recently. All it took to change that was a handful of preachers, a Spider-Man costume and a saxophone.


Reach Dylan Tusinski at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @unwashedtiedye.