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Protesters rebuke apologies from members of College Republicans United

Students in attendance criticized the club members' apologies as being empty and insincere

CRU Apology

ASU PhD student Sarra Tekola and other protestors chant during the College Republicans United press conference outside of Old Main in Tempe, Arizona, on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

Dozens of students gathered in front of Old Main on Tuesday afternoon to protest members of College Republicans United, who were there to publicly apologize for racist comments that were leaked to the press over the last several months. 

The protests were fiery and profane, with students accusing the club's members of delivering empty and insincere apologies only to attempt to redeem their image rather than address the harm they caused to marginalized communities.

Read more: College Republicans United apologizes for racism amid outcry

The president of College Republicans United, Matthew Northway, repeated prepared statements he gave at a March 25 club meeting, speaking over the crowd's chants of "Nazi, Nazi" and "disband the club," as he condemned the group's past actions.

The apology comes after publication of multiple stories about bigotry in the group over the last several months, including an initial profile of the group The State Press published in October and a recent Phoenix New Times story about a leaked dossier of private chat logs that showed club members engaging in further racist rhetoric.

Read more: Elephant in The Room

The University announced last week that it was investigating comments made by individuals in the group brought to light in a dossier published by the Phoenix New Times.

Despite ASU's initial claims that it was unaware of the comments prior to the publication of the New Times story, a University official familiar with the investigation said Tuesday that was a misstatement, and that the University was made aware of the dossier earlier this year.

Emails reviewed by the State Press back up that claim, showing that the University received the dossier and similar documents via email in January and February.

A screenshot sent to The State Press on March 24, 2019, shows the office of the Dean acknowledged emails from former members of College Republicans United about the club's offensive behavior.

A second screenshot sent to The State Press on March 24, 2019, shows the dossier attached in the email sent to the office of the Dean.

Student activists from groups such as the Young Democratic Socialists of America at ASU and the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition protested the club's apologies.

The ire was directed not only at the members of CRU, but also at Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a Baptist minister and civil rights activist who threw his hat into the ring of this controversy yesterday when he called for a public apology by CRU. 

Protestors said that he was only being used to absolve the club of its racism.

Maupin, who has come under fire in the past for profiting from his activism denied the claims that he was paid for the event.

He was defiant in the face of protesters, telling them to "go away" and that they were detracting from the discourse, and that they couldn’t "become as ugly and as obstinate and as ignorant as the opposition is." 

Maupin told The State Press Tuesday evening he was seeking a meeting with members of University administration, despite telling the crowd at the event that he'd confirmed the meeting with administration. 

"There is no meeting scheduled between Rev. Maupin, Dr. Crow and Dr. Rund tomorrow, or any other day," said Bret Hovell, a spokesperson for the University.

Kevin Decuyper, a founding member of CRU and the current chairman of sister group Republicans United, was among those exposed for his extremist views. 

"What you believe is an extreme view is different than what I believe is an extreme view," Decuyper said.  

He drew gasps from the crowd when he exclaimed that he has "...never used the word (the N-word)."

Former president of College Republicans United Rick Thomas' words were more conciliatory. 

"One of the things I want to do is I want to ask, 'Can I volunteer? Can I go somewhere in a community and pay back my debt to them?'" he said. "I want to do those things, and I’m asking you for your help. Where can I do those things? Where do I start that process?"

Although the club expressed its intention to reconcile with the community during the event, Decuyper doubled down on his conservative views, saying he supported the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I also support (President) Donald Trump," he said. 

One of the main groups to protest was YDSA, whose members found CRU's apologies to be insincere.

"I believe that this is a PR stunt to attempt to rehabilitate their image," said Justin Remelius, the vice chair of ASU's Young Democratic Socialists of America and a political science and philosophy sophomore. “They are not apologizing because they see the problems with their past statements and they wish to start the long process of making amends.”

Remelius said that his organization was at the event today to make sure the group and ASU are held accountable.  

"We are out here so we can make sure they don’t get away with that," he added. "And to make sure that the University knows that if they continue to allow white nationalists on campus and minority students and gay students to feel unsafe on this campus, we will continue to be a presence fight that." 

Northway said that the members of CRU had to "respect the inherent dignity" that the club members share and disavow racism moving forward.  

Sarra Tekola, a doctoral student in sustainability and the founder of the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition, said during the event that CRU failed to take proper responsibility for its actions, and that its apologies contradicted the club's continued support of Trump and of conservative ideals.

"It’s more than unfortunate," Tekola said. "This is a culture of white supremacy that pervades this campus."

Correction: An earlier version of this article misquoted ASU's YDSA vice chair Justin Remelius in the 23rd paragraph. The story has been updated to reflect the change.

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