College Republicans, Democrats join to condemn censure of peer’s ‘I love America’ column
The Georgetown student government condemned a fellow student, Billy Torgerson, after he wrote a blog post explaining his love for America, criticizing Black Lives Matter and decrying a recent Supreme Court ruling that redefined sex to include transgenderism.
In early July the student government not only voted to condemn the column, but also called on the campus community to file bias reports against Torgerson and in so doing force the administration to investigate him for some sort of act of hate.
The student senators then hid the resolution from the public after The College Fix reported on it. However, The College Fix retained a copy of the resolution, which called Torgerson’s piece “racist, hateful, and ignorant ideology” and encouraged students to lodge complaints about it.
Georgetown media affairs did not respond to a request from The College Fix on Tuesday seeking an update on the matter.
But now the presidents of the College Republicans and College Democrats at the Catholic university in D.C. have spoken out in support of Torgerson’s right to say what he wants without fear of being targeted by a cancel culture mob.
The student newspaper the Hoya published a column on July 24 from Ajayan Williamson and Henry Dai, the presidents of the Georgetown chapters of College Democrats and College Republicans, respectively, defending Torgerson from the mob.
They argue it was wrong for the student government to not only censure Torgerson, who is also a member of College Republicans, but also ask the university to discipline him for his writing.
“[W]e embrace the prospect of civil debate on the important and highly sensitive topics this article discusses. Yet, we also found GUSA’s [Georgetown University Student Association] actions in response to be highly inappropriate,” Williamson and Dai wrote.
The pair chastised the student government for using the “institutional power of student government to clearly target a student for expressing his point of view, an action antithetical to the ideals in the free speech and expression policy and culture outlined by the university.”
They further warned the student government that demanding sanctions on Torgerson created a bad precedent, because it “puts the university in the untenable position of policing the political opinions of its student body,” and condemned “targeted harassment and even death threats” directed at their fellow student.
“Vitriolic bullying and harassment achieve nothing productive and conflict with our values on a fundamental level,” they wrote.
Williamson and Dai acknowledged political differences and referenced the upcoming November elections, but stated that the university must protect open discourse.
“Using institutional power to banish opinions from our discourse that are deemed problematic is not the way to move our goals forward. We are committed to fostering the kinds of conversations that will,” the pair concluded.
The support for free-speech from the two major political organizations on campus is welcome news, especially in light of Georgetown’s poor track record on free-speech. The university has a “red light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which indicates that the university has at least one problematic policy.
While the university endorses the Chicago Statement on freedom of speech, it also forbids “behavior, either through language or actions, which disrespects another individual.” Its harassment policy bans “verbal abuse or ridicule,” “slurs, epithets, and stereotyping,” and “offensive jokes and comments.”
It was especially brave of the College Democrat chair to support a Republican student who wrote critically of liberal views on race and gender.
The column is a good step for free-speech and free-expression and represents a minor victory until the next time Georgetown or its students get offended.
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