Letter to the Editor — WSU College Democrats on the YAL decision
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This past Wednesday, the WSU Student Government Association (SGA) voted against recognizing Young Americans for Liberty (YAL). YAL is a libertarian free speech group that advocates for free speech for all on college campuses nationwide. There are over 900 chapters nationwide and is currently one of the fastest growing organizations in the country. On April 6th, a chapter here at WSU could have opened up, but SGA voted against recognizing the organization due to controversial incidents by YAL. A few YAL chapters nationwide have been accused or propagating hate speech. For example, a few YAL chapters invited the controversial former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. This eventually lead to SGA failing to recognize the group in a roll call vote. The WSU College Democrats disapproves of this vote, and we wish this resolution had passed. Free speech is a crucial component of our democracy, and is a core principle of the Democratic Party. We do understand the concerns that many senators in SGA brought forward regarding YAL and hate speech, but the WSU College Democrats believe that everyone across the political spectrum is entitled to free speech. Although we have disagreements with YAL regarding certain issues, we believe that silencing opposing viewpoints is not the best way of having an honest, open discussion. We believe that the best way of expressing our own viewpoints is to engage in an open debate with those who believe differently than us. The executive board of WSU College Democrats believe it is hypocritical to cite tolerance when in fact those who voted against this resolution are not even willing to allow this group of students the opportunity to rise above the controversy. The Democratic Party advocates for free speech no matter the nature of its rhetoric. There are already rules and regulations here at Wichita State University that prohibit discrimination based on sex, gender, orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, etc. There is no need to attempt to silence an institution before it even has the opportunity to function within the rules and policies here at Wichita State University. WSU currently recognizes both College Democrats and College Republicans. We would never want to deny College Republicans a chance at expressing their viewpoints simply because we disagree with them. Similarly, we want YAL to have a chance at expressing their viewpoint just like College Democrats and College Republicans do. It is unfair for SGA to deny YAL a chance at doing so, and we believed that we needed to express our support for a YAL chapter here at WSU. Free speech is not something that only liberals are entitled to. We believe that conservatives and libertarians are entitled to free speech, and we believe that liberals cannot place a filter on free speech. Furthermore, we have absolute confidence that the Student Body would not allow hate speech on this campus if YAL chose to use its voice in that way. With that being said, they absolutely need the chance to be able to voice their beliefs freely, so long as it does not harm others. Because of these reasons, the Executive Board of WSU College Democrats wholeheartedly disagrees with this decision made by SGA, and we hope that SGA would reconsider having a YAL chapter here at WSU.
President Shelby Rowell, Vice President Paul Raymond, and Secretary Hasan Raffi
(April 10, 2017)