On Sept. 2, known white supremacist and self-proclaimed "white advocate" Jared Taylor delivered a speech entitled "If we do nothing: A defense of white identity politics," hosted by ASU's College Republicans United. The event, hosted in one of ASU's biggest lecture halls, did not shock ASU students privy to ASU perpetuating bigotry.
ASU administration should not platform bigoted speech, as it targets minority communities and perpetuates white supremacy on campus. While it is an accomplishment to be ranked as a top university for promoting free speech, this achievement is dampened by the fact that it seems to mean ASU will continue to platform racism and white supremacy while ignoring the needs and demands of students.
Taylor is an advocate of "race-realism," a racist pseudoscience that holds the belief that certain races are inferior or superior to others. He has promoted the belief that the U.S. should remain predominantly European and white. It is not surprising his presence at ASU was met with condemnation and criticism from a variety of students.
Other student organizations, including ASU Women's Coalition, Young Democratic Socialists of America and Students for Justice of Palestine, supported a statement condemning the event and called for ASU administration to ban Taylor from speaking on campus. Groups also called for administration to stop recognizing CRU as a student organization and to issue an apology for allowing white supremacy to be promoted on campus.
ASU has a history of hosting problematic, racist speakers.
Just last year, CRU hosted white nationalist and holocaust-denier Vincent James Foxx.
In 2015, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences faculty associate Robert Poesupported a fellow professor who was targeted by white supremacists for teaching classes on critical race theory. Although he and other faculty showed concern for the security of the professor being targeted, administration seemed to stayed silent, Poe said.
"They definitely kind of wanted it to go away at the time. They didn't want the publicity or the negative publicity about the University," Poe said.
Poe said the issue is not free versus hate speech, but that ASU platforms bigoted ideals such as white supremacy and neo-nazism.
The debate between what counts as hate speech and what is protected free speech is difficult to navigate, but it is clear ASU administration does not see the problems that arise from allowing bigotry to have a platform. It seems ASU is more concerned with protecting white nationalists who are not affiliated with the school than it is with providing a safe environment for its own students.
Students have continuously shown discomfort and condemnation of events like these, only to be met with silence and complacency from ASU administration.
ASU President Michael Crow recently released a statement addressing the event, claiming it is his "personal opinion that the particular ideas Jared Taylor espouses have no place in the advancement of American democracy."
However, Crow touts ASU's free speech policy protects Jared Taylor and other guest speakers.
In the introduction to Taylor's speech, CRU founder Richard Thomas thanked Crow for "going out of his way" to allow the event to take place.
"I'd like to express my appreciation for Arizona State University," Thomas said. "The administration, I understand, came under very considerable pressure trying to get this event canceled, and they held firm. That's unusual these days."
When there is substantial outcry from students, clubs and faculty, ASU administration fails to fulfill its duty as an educational institution by continuously being silent on matters regarding white supremacy, leaving ASU's communities vulnerable and unprotected. ASU administration needs to rethink how they approach these situations so that they are not platforming bigotry.
Edited by Sadie Buggle, Grace Copperthite, Sophia Balasubramanian and Piper Hansen.
Editor's note: The opinions presented in this column are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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