Campus leaders at Sewanee: The University of the South have refused to allow the institution’s College Republicans to hang a poster depicting various terrorists acts as part of a “Never Forget” memorial for 9/11.
(At right, poster image)
“The university does not shy away from content that might make viewers feel uncomfortable; our students will not be shielded from discomforting ideas once they leave Sewanee. However, the university will not promote content that might make members of the community unsafe, rather than merely uncomfortable,” campus spokeswoman Laurie Saxton said in an email Tuesday to The College Fix.
The poster, created by Young America’s Foundation to be displayed along with 2,977 small American flags as part of the conservative organization’s annual Never Forget project, was hung at many campuses across the country in recent weeks by various student clubs, including College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom chapters. The flags represent the death toll on 9/11.
But at Sewanee, the request to hang the posters was denied. Amir Kamrani, president of the Sewanee College Republicans, told The College Fix he was advised by a campus leader a few days before Sept. 11 that the posters were denied because they “invoked hate towards Muslims.”
The College Republicans reached out for clarification, but did not receive a response, Kamrani said. With that, the College Republicans went ahead and held the memorial Sunday, without permission, hanging two posters in the university dining hall and planting the flags in honor of the victims.
As a result of their defiance, the club was suspended.
“The University of the South requires that all student posters be approved before they can be hung on campus. Students did request approval of the poster in question, and it was denied,” Saxton told The Fix. “One or more members of the College Republicans put up the poster following the disapproval, leading to the club’s suspension for failure to comply with the policy. The Office of the Dean of Students is continuing to look into the matter, however, and has reinstated the club during that process.”
In an email he wrote to campus administration defending his group’s actions, Kamrani stated:
… not having the chance to appeal this decision – it came September 11, a day that we had planned to use to shine a light on the tragedies that our nation has faced as a result of terrorist attacks conducted by Islamic extremists. On this day we went ahead and posted two posters in the McClurg dining hall.
The 9/11 never forget posters were not graphic. They did not promote hate or violence against any religion, country, or group, except terrorists who had conducted such hideous acts.
As a result of posting these posters against the administration’s will to censor us, you have notified us that our College Republicans chapter will be suspended. This is a clear example of punishing a student organization for not giving up to the university administration’s attempt to censor its students.
Editor’s note: A day after publication, the “Sewanee College Republicans Elected Cabinet” released a statement saying Kamrani was acting of his own accord, and that they disavow the content of the poster, and his actions and statements. Their statement is below:
An apology and a correcting of the record
Dear members of the Sewanee community and the world at large,
The Sewanee College Republicans sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by the crude and shocking posters that were presented under our name last week. We also formally rescind any claim that we were suspended unjustly, or that we were censored in any way. The University of the South, and especially Dean Hagi Bradley, have always been enormously kind and welcoming to our ideas and to us as individuals.
The posters were put up by an individual incorrectly representing himself as our president. He put them up without the consent of the group. Additionally, we apologize profusely to Dean Hagi Bradley who has suffered from a misguided wave of attention as the result of press interviews given by the same individual who put up the posters. The quotes attributed to Dean Bradley in those articles were heard secondhand by the individual, and were not verifiable for a properly written news article.
The statement put out by the individual, Amir Kamrani, on our official letterhead is hereby voided. The two other officers listed on the letter were not notified. Mr. Kamrani was acting alone. His claims in that letter that we were censored, and that the posters were “not graphic” do not reflect the views of the Sewanee College Republicans.
Mr. Kamrani served as our president during the 2015-2016 school year, but his term ended last April at which time he relinquished the authority to speak as our president.
The posters that were eventually put up had been fairly rejected by the University Administration as they were not a product of our organization. When the university believed that we, as an organization, put up the banned posters we were suspended. When we communicated to the university that the posters were the action of one individual, we were reinstated.
We, the newly elected officers of the Sewanee College Republicans, formally condemn Mr. Kamrani’s actions. In light of recent events he has voluntarily removed himself from the chapter.
Sewanee College Republicans Elected Cabinet
Pierre DuBois – President
John Gaither – Vice President
Abbey Shockley – Secretary
Lindsey Floyd – Treasurer