By Kyle Hooten
Conservative students at Minnesota’s St. Olaf College are now being accused of “white supremacy” after stating their belief in the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The harassment occurred after Turning Point USA (TPUSA) members gathered on campus and posted several recruitment posters on campus, each of which listed a reason why the students prefer conservatism.
“I believe in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” “I love economic freedom,” and “all human life has value” were among the reasons posted
In a recent op-ed for The College Fix, chapter President Kathryn Hinderaker explained that administrative approval for the activism event ultimately proved to mean nothing, as several of the signs had been torn down by the very next day.
“I’m definitely disappointed, but the vandalism is not unexpected. Everything we’ve ever put up in my time at St. Olaf College has been torn down relatively quickly,” she wrote, noting that “we hoped the campus would be more receptive to our plea for dialogue.”
The controversy continued this week with a counter-display erected by several other student groups, such as th Diversity Celebrations Committee, Women in Science, Celebrate South Asia, KARIBU club, and St. Olaf’s Students of Color—all of whom accused TPUSA of only caring about “rich, white, heterosexual” men.
“They said: All Human life has value. They meant: if you are a RICH, WHITE, HETEROSEXUAL, MAN,” one poster in the “Counterpoint to Turning Point” display stated.
“You are conservative because you have privilege, your privilege allows you to distance yourself from the effects of conservatism on marginalized folx,” a different sign contended, while another called “capitalism” a “way to continue the oppression of poor people, LGBTQIA+ folx, people of color, immigrants, and many more.”
“Conservatism is just white supremacy calling itself a political ideology,” yet another sign proclaimed.
“I just wish people who aren’t leftist would be allowed to fairly explain themselves without the hate, stigma, and personal attacks,” libertarian student Winston Anderson told Campus Reform, remarking that St. Olaf’s has “a tense political climate.”
“It is unfortunate that another group has chosen to attack us personally,” concurred TPUSA officer Nicklaus Johnson, while conservative student Ariel Byerly stated that she wishes “there wasn’t so much hate for conservatives on this campus…everybody else gets to put up their displays in peace, even the controversial ones.”
Of the four organizing clubs involved in the counter-display, only the Women in Science group chose to provide a statement.
“[We] believe that when such organizations engage in rhetoric that is problematic and hurtful to other groups/students on campus, then these groups have every right to respond in any way they choose,” the group told Campus Reform.
A spokesperson for St. Olaf told Campus Reform that “displays are permissible as long as they do not unlawfully harass, discriminate, or otherwise violate the Code of Conduct or other St. Olaf policies,” but noted that “the college does not review the content of displays before they are posted.”
The school’s policy on “Public Area Decoration” contains just one restriction on posting signage, saying that “because St. Olaf’s is a safe space for all students; any material that can be deemed offensive, demeaning, or derogatory to others may not be posted in common areas.”
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