A controversy about free speech, censorship and political campaigning all began last Wednesday when the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU), the university’s student government, posted the following invitation to the four major presidential candidates on its official Facebook page:
ASMSU’s invitation to Donald Trump didn’t sit well with MSU student Maisie Rodriguez, who expressed her concern on ASMU’s Facebook (“You guys are aware that Donald Trump is a racist, correct?”) and was eventually blocked from the page for stating her opinions.
That social media block led to a Thursday protest at ASMSU’s meeting by Culturas de las Razas Unidas (CRU), the university’s Latino student organization:
Yesterday ASMSU released a post stating that they had invited all four presidential candidates including Donald Trump to Michigan State University in efforts to be non-partisan. One of the CRU e-board members voiced her concerns on Donald Trump and all the violence/hate crimes that surround his presidential campaign on social media. She was confronted by various ASMSU employees with hostility and various derogatory comments. ASMSU proceeded to block this e-board member and other CRU e-board members from ASMSU social media. After being confronted for such actions, they unblocked the members. These actions are unacceptable. We are forming a meeting at ASMSU to confront these actions and the unacceptable hostility towards the POC community. Please join us at 7:00pm at the ASMSU office located in the Student Services building.
Later that Thursday evening, CRU protested the meeting:
It also posted this video of the meeting, where CRU members are seeing walking out, after one member said, “As Latinx here at MSU, our community is not safe anymore.”
CRU also said that Michael Booth, ASMSU representative for the Eli Broad College of Business, said the following during the protest: “We should have built a wall in the ASMSU lobby.” (According to an CRU from Saturday morning and ASMSU, Booth resigned from ASMSU.)
— Madison O'Connor (@madison_o22) October 6, 2016
In response to CRU’s protest, ASMSU’s president published a letter admitting that it has blocked CRU members and saying that it will initiate a new vote to reconsider invitations of the presidential candidates.
As for Rodriguez’s original Facebook comments, they are back up on ASMSU’s Facebook page. Here is just a sample of thread:
Rodriguez: Not differing opinions. Acknowledging Donald Trump incites violence against Latinxs does not have the same weight as “differing opinions”.
Haley Martis: maybe you should take YOUR differing opinion somewhere else then. Even though I don’t support some of these people I think it is respectable that they extended an invitation to all candidates.
Rodriguez: Where else would you like me to go? Please specify.
Lizbeth López-Bermúdez: Racism is not an opinion. It is deadly, FYI.
Associated Students of Michigan State University: Please take your opinions to the polls in november. It’s great to see students so involved in this election. We are non partisan, therefore, we won’t favor one candidate over the other. We invited all as a way to encourage students to vote as part of ASMSU’s initiatives.
López-Bermúdez: What are y’all gonna do to protect and support the Latinx students you represent? Or Muslims/LGBTQ ppl/women that are also students on this campus and are being targeted by Donald Trump’s campaign?
Martis: Lizbeth López-Bermúdez No where in this post does it say that ASMSU supports Donald Trump. maybe you should read before you comment.
Rodriguez: It doesn’t matter if ASMSU supports him. They invited him. They will be held accountable.
López-Bermúdez: Did I ever say ASMSU supports or endorses Trump? No. I know this is being done in an effort to appear non-partisan but inviting him to come speak here means they are inviting him to spew his anti-Latinx rhetoric.
Martis: If you are both interested in joining the student government and voicing your opinions there instead of on social media, please refer to the website: http://asmsu.msu.edu/divisions/general-assembly/
Rodriguez: Micro aggressions upon micro aggressions. Brazy.
Rodriguez: Screen shots upon screen shots too tho.
Rodriguez: When ASMSU comes to Culturas de las Razas Unidas meetings to ask how to “diversify” ASMSU since they’ve acknowledged they aren’t accommodating to minorities. Yet we have people like Haley Martis telling us to “take our opinion else where”. ? something ain’t adding up
Martis: Maisie Rodriguez my opinions are independent of the organization so I would appreciate if you didn’t attack me right now thanks.
Rodriguez: Thanks for unblocking me
Rodriguez: Haley Martis you aren’t independent if you blocked me
Martis: You’re making some ignorant assumptions right now that I run the Facebook page, when in fact, I do not.
Martis: So if I were you I would just stop
Alyse Maksimoski: Haley Martis idk if you only listen to/value white input, but I, a white person, am telling you that these are some next-level microaggressions and you might want to read up the Microaggression campaign RHA is pushing. Maybe you should be the one to join student government. Maybe you’d learn something.
Brian Hepworth: Holy shit, y’all need to chill
Brandan Goodwin: Micro-aggressions… How is this real life? Im dying right now ?
Maddy Cleary: Just cause it’s not your experience doesn’t mean this isn’t real for other folx Brandan Goodwin, Brian Hepworth.