Black student activists at Columbia University are calling on the university to defund the College Republicans, with claims that their views “oppose our humanity.”
According to the Black Students’ Organization, groups that invite speakers they deem “white supremacists” are unworthy of receiving student government money funded by groups’ own fees, The College Fix reported on Monday.
The argument was made against the Ivy League institution’s College Republicans following their decision to invite and host outspoken right-wing personality Mike Cernovich and Tommy Robinson, a British critic of radical Islam and founder of the English Defence League.
The Columbia Daily Spectator, which first reported the story on Monday, smeared the two speakers as “white supremacists.”
Robinson delivered his speech through Skype in mid-October, drawing widespread anger from students who sought to disrupt the event. Protesters blocked entrances and drowned out his speech with noise.
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According to the Spectator, the BSO called on the Student Governing Board to pull its funds from the College Republicans. Every year, the SGB allocates over $250,000 in student group funding—composed of student fees—to over 90 different student groups on campus. Of the total allocation, the CUCR only received $4,640.
The BSO called on the board to redistribute the funds allocated to CUCR to Muslim groups, LGBT groups, and groups oriented towards minority students.
“We do not support, in any capacity, giving a platform to beliefs that blatantly oppose our livelihood and humanity, and especially not in the name of intellectual diversity,” BSO said in a statement.
According to the Spectator, the group also called upon other groups to join a “Columbia Coalition Against White Supremacy.”
The student paper reports that the BSO asked the Columbia College Student Council for a formal statement of support for its proposal.
CUCR Director of Operations Joseph Siegel argued that in attempting to bar certain speakers from campus, BSO was conflating intellectual ideas with “physical ideas of safety and violence,” and in doing so allowing “a heckler’s veto to whomever feels emotionally hurt by anyone.”
“If the word ‘white supremacist’ can be applied to a person, maybe don’t invite them to our campus,” Nicole Allicock, CCSC vice president of policy, said.
In addition, Allicock called on the College Republicans to provide a list of potential speakers to the student council to vet and approve of so it can figure out “which speakers are appropriate to bring to campus, taking into consideration the potential mental toll on students,” reports the Spectator.
Dafne Murillo, an academic affairs representative, suggested that it wouldn’t be a big deal if the College Republicans lost their funding and recognition by the Student Council because they could simply rent spaces for events.
However, as the Student Council has no authority to derecognize groups, it opted to vote in favor of submitting a complaint to the school’s Student Conduct and Community Standards, which investigates “incidents of academic, behavioral, and gender-based misconduct.”