CRU’s invite to Joe Arpaio met with criticism from on-campus leftist groups

Arpaio will be promoting his reelection campaign, an appearance some students claim isn't beneficial for the ASU community

College Republicans United is set to host former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio at its meeting on Wednesday, and leftist groups on campus say that Arpaio's appearance will not be beneficial for students. 

Young Democratic Socialists of America at ASU chairperson Tanzil Chowdhury, a senior majoring in materials science and engineering, said that he isn't surprised that CRU would do "something like this" and that it is "not out of the ordinary for them."

"I don't think (Arpaio) is someone who provides a perspective that ASU students can use anything from," Chowdhury said. "It's just something (CRU) can use to get a rise out of us." 

Arpaio will be advocating for his political campaign, in which he is running for his old position again in the 2020 election. 

Junior philosophy major Sebastian Miscenich, secretary and co-chair of Students for Socialism, wrote that SFS condemns Arpaio coming to ASU and that having Arpaio on campus is not beneficial.

"Not only is Arpaio's voice not good for the ASU community, his voice is actively harmful to the Latino and undocumented people who study and work at ASU," Miscenich said in an email. "Students for Socialism condemns Arpaio and his racist election campaign."

Miscenich wrote that SFS calls on ASU to disband CRU, as they have "now invited two 'guest speakers' with the express intent to terrorize the Latino and undocumented people of ASU."

Last semester CRU invited U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to speak at their club meeting, which resulted in a protest.

READ MORE: Students protest against events hosting ICE and IDF

CRU declined to comment for this story. But in a newsletter, CRU said that they have reasons to believe there will be protesters and Riders United for a Sovereign America will be "on scene to escort members and other attendees from the parking lot to the meeting room if necessary." 

Riders USA describes themselves as "avid motorcycle enthusiasts" that "believe our country should be governed from within and by the United States Constitution." 

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists them as an "anti-government group." 

President of ASU College Libertarians David Howman, a graduate student studying justice studies, said that ASU is a public university, therefore student clubs should be able to invite whoever they want.

"Since Arpaio is running for sheriff again, there's relevance to him speaking to a crowd," Howman said. "However, I don't think there's much enthusiasm for him on this campus outside of CRU members."

Howman said that although he strongly disagrees with most of Arpaio's platforms, it's CRU's right to invite him to campus.  

"It's also the right of other students to peacefully protest his appearance if that's what they choose to do," Howman said.

Arpaio tweeted about his invitation to speak at CRU's meeting, saying there is information that a protest will occur to "force cancellation," but that he "will never back down."

Arpaio ran for reelection in 2016 but lost to Democrat Paul Penzone, who worked with the Phoenix Police Department for 21 years.

Arpaio, who served as sheriff for 24 years, was found in criminal contempt of court in 2017 for not following court orders that were set to stop racial profiling. 

Shortly after his conviction, President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio before his sentencing, which was scheduled for October 2016. The pardon ensured that Arpaio would not serve time in prison. 

The White House then released a statement saying that throughout Arpaio's time as Sheriff he "continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration."

Clarification: The headline and lede of this article were updated Jan. 28, 8:30 p.m. to say “leftist” to better reflect the groups in opposition to the event.


Reach the reporter at nnano@asu.edu and follow @halentinos on Twitter.

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