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Just because the Midwest of the universities and colleges of higher education have been largely spared of the left-wing violence that has marred campus events in the Western and Eastern coasts, does not mean that the heartland is a safe space for conservative students.
On the campus of the University of Minnesota, for example, conservative students say they are exposed to harassment and threats – albeit non-violent – for their political beliefs.
“Freedom of speech is shut down at universities across the country,” Madison Faupel, president of the Minnesota College Republicans, told the Star Tribune, adding that they have been threatened with violence and attacked on social media.
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Nowadays, police officers are required for the conservative speakers who are not even controversial, Faupel said.
Conservative students argue that speakers that lean right have the same freedom of expression rights if that protest and that a heavy presence of the police shouldn’t be needed at their events.
Many add that protesters try to label someone with a conservative ideology, as a neo-Nazi, a white supremacist, or alt-right extremist hate spewing.
“Here is a man who comes in and says free enterprise is better than communism and the United States is a large country, and he is so controversial he needed armed guards on campus,” John Hinderaker, president of the Center of the American Experiment, said of a recent speech at the University of Minnesota by Turning Points USA founder Charles Kirk. “We really have reached a point of madness.”
“The term ‘hate speech’ gets thrown at us all the time,” Faupel added. “I think what they consider as hate speech, are the things where they disagree.”
An exception to the relatively non-violent pressure conservative students in the Midwest face of progressive activists occurred in October, as Lauren South, a Canadian libertarian and YouTube star known for her anti-immigrant activism, spoke on the campus.
(Copyright 2017, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
The police, the barricades to protect students in the speech and eventually arrested one protester after the event, urged the cda to leave the room as unobtrusively as possible, and Faupel eventually sneak in a back door.
More violence may be on the horizon, they warned.
The Minnesota College Republicans plan to have conservative columnist Ben Shapiro to the campus. Shapiro spoke on campus three years ago to little fanfare, but given the current climate on campus, Faupel believes Shapiro’s next visit will lead to “all hell loose.”
Shapiro’s speech in Berkeley in September drew hundreds of protesters and led to violent confrontations. At least nine people were arrested during his speech.
Opponents of the conservative speakers, meanwhile, say that they have the right to protest under the First Amendment, and adding that speakers who espouse “hateful, and, in many cases, violent ideas” should be excluded from the campus.
“You can talk as much as you want about having a free speech or whatever, but at some point, the people who commit these xenophobic violence in our community must be facing,” Marty Branyon, a member of the Students for a Democratic Society, told the Minnesota newspaper.