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Gordon: Treat Marginalized Student Groups Equally

Mecha’s Loss of Sponsorship Sends Harsh Message to Students of Color
Demonstrators%2C+including+members+of+Mecha%2C+at+the+Young+Americans+for+Freedom+at+the+University+of+Utah%E2%80%99s+watch+party+in+J.+Willard+Marriott+Library+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+Wednesday%2C+Nov.+01%2C+2023.+%28Photo+by+Xiangyao+%E2%80%9CAxe%E2%80%9D+Tang+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Xiangyao Tang
Demonstrators, including members of Mecha, at the Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Utah’s watch party in J. Willard Marriott Library in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 01, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

On Nov. 9, the University of Utah took its sponsorship and funding away from Mecha de U of U, a student organization that organizes for the empowerment of marginalized students on campus.

This started on Nov. 1, when the Young Americans for Freedom held a viewing of an offensive movie featuring accounts of children claiming they’d been tricked into transitioning. Following Mecha’s peaceful protest, protected under the First Amendment, they received a letter stating they’d violated YAF’s right to freedom of speech and are no longer sponsored by the U.

This double standard sends an unsettling message about the moral values the U upholds, especially considering its impact on students of color and their groups on campus.

CESB’s Inadequate Reasoning

It’s growing increasingly clear the U prioritizes the protection of hate speech over the right to protest against it under the First Amendment.

The Office of the Dean said the law does not define hate speech. This gives too much leeway to groups like YAF, even when they make hateful transphobic statements. As a university, this needs to change. The U should have a clearer definition of hate speech, which would reduce instances of hate on campus.

Instead, the U proceeded to avoid accountability behind even more vague language in the letter withdrawing sponsorship and funding. The letter failed to examine a particular reason for punishment other than “engaging in behaviors that infringe on the First Amendment rights of other University of Utah Students to express their views.”

In addition to taking away Mecha’s funding, the U also canceled Mecha’s high school outreach conference. The cancellation robbed aspiring students of color of the chance to be part of a community that provides them with much-needed representation. The canceled event strived for inclusivity and promoted togetherness and safety. This event differs greatly from the divisiveness YAF seeks to promote, especially when they put up transphobic posters.

This shows a clear pattern where the University prioritizes protecting white student groups over groups advocating for students of color. Christopher Loera-Peña, a Mecha member, said, “We put out a flier recently for our Armed Queers event. The university wanted to meet with us and censor us, have meetings with us, but none of that ever happened with the Young Americans for Freedom.”

The ease with which the U took action against Mecha puts into question the U’s commitment to inclusivity and exposes their disregard for a safe student body culture. These decisions affect more than individual organizations — they shape the diversity of voices across the university community.

As long as the U continues to protect hate speech, groups like Mecha should have a complete right to protest attacks on their communities.

Influence on Advocacy Groups

The U’s decisions set a precedent that strips power from students of color. This situation extends beyond Mecha, involving advocacy groups such as the Arab Student Association, who have voiced their solidarity with Mecha and may now be evaluating their own relationships with the university. This can create a ripple effect, prompting other organizations to either conform to the U’s standards or get lost.

“If you’re a group on campus and you are on that side, you have much more safety on campus,” Loera-Peña said in reference to YAF’s support of Israel.

The U must stop attempting to appeal to everyone at the expense of its marginalized students.

“I think the university overall tries to maintain its reputation and public image just to keep profits high. And, you know, the work that Mecha’s doing … we’re actively standing up for students,” Loera-Peña said.

Empowering Student Action

Looking at all these concerns, Loera-Peña emphasized the importance of collective action.

“Now is the time to stand up, make your voice heard, take action,” he said. Nothing’s going to change if we just sit idly by. We need to get organized, get involved.”

To respond to this call to action, students can join existing advocacy groups on campus like Students for a Democratic Society or Mecha. Students can also participate in community events posted on the groups’ Instagram pages.

In joining this approach, students can create a sense of unity that goes beyond individual concerns. By participating and making their voices heard, students contribute to a campus culture that reflects inclusivity, diversity and a shared commitment to shaping a better future for all.

 

[email protected]

@lukeg0rdon

View Comments (7)
About the Contributor
Xiangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

Comments (7)

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  • J

    John HedbergNov 26, 2023 at 6:36 am

    Dear Marxists Hypocrites at The Chronic,

    If you’re racist against pale-skinned Euro’s, Marxism is definitely the way to go, since Marxists pointedly ignore the worldwide history of oppression and slavery among every other group, including their own rabid history of genocide and totalitarianism, and only foment hatred and division among the cultures and peoples which ended slavery, since this makes those cultures the greatest evil of all! Lol

    Does anyone ever open a book here at The Chronic?

    Meanwhile, I submitted a compliment for an excellent photo, and I was told it was “threatening speech” they refused to print, but if any Chronic staff member wants to paint innocent millions of people as dangerous racist oppressors, including people who resemble students here on this campus… well, there’s nothing hateful, incendiary, or threatening about anything written by staff at the Chronicle, now is there?

    I’ve heard plenty of hate-targeting toward innocent students here on campus, being hate-labeled as “oppressors” simply for how they were born, including by student groups and staff here at The Chronic. In the latter case, such articles are too numerous to mention by people who seem to think that their own hate is always justified, when in fact faith-based civil rights with decades or centuries of legal precedent make it clear that hatred itself is the enemy, no matter who is doing it or what rationalizations they imagine for themselves in an attempt to justify their unjustifiable criminal passion.

    Here’s the difference: you can hate a behavior, but you are never allowed to hate a human being.

    Target a behavior with questions and discussion and you’re on hallowed ground, but targeting a human being or any group of human beings as hateful has no virtue and makes you as guilty as the worst “oppressor” you ever projected out of your own bigoted assumptions, since you now are the oppressor, based on your oppressive behavior: no difference between you and the person you purport to hate and paint with your own.

    The people of Jewish descent settled the area of Palestine thousands of years before Christ, so they are the natives of Palestine. After the Nazi’s exterminated more than 6 million men, women, and children (much like Hamas “fighters” did to Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu civilians on October 7th), people around the world donated money for Jewish survivors to buy property in the land (Palestine) their ancestors had been dispossessed from. Jewish people today are European, Asian, African, North and South American and otherwise because they were forced to flee to all corners of the world when their homeland was repeatedly occupied, so there’s now no way to know how a Jewish person looks by sight, which is why Hamas kidnappers, rapists and murderers couldn’t tell that they were also committing genocide against fellow Palestinians on October 7th, as well as against visitors from around the globe, a great many of whom were minorities who were oppressed in their own homelands, but not in modern Israel, where they had equal legal and voting rights, where it was legal to be a woman and still drive a car, and where having a different lifestyle doesn’t target you for murder… unless Hamas or other Marxists happen to go on a genocidal killing spree in the name of an oppression that never happened, when they themselves are actual colonialists in Palestine.

    A large and growing number of post-surgical transgender persons are realizing in retrospect that they were not feeling at home in their own body for reasons which had nothing to do with gender, and now that they’ve chosen irreversible removal of body organs that can never be replaced (for instance, they can never have children), there have been a growing number of suicides reported by the leading transgender institutes in Europe, which are a few years ahead of this country when it comes to treating true gender dysphoria. My question is why some of you are apparently so transphobic that you deny, suppress, and refuse to inclusively #Listen to the diverse lived experiences of suffering people whose feelings may differ from your own, by showing them empathy and compassion as if you value their humanity the same way you value others. Why do you devalue the humanity of these transgender people whose experience may be diverse from your own?

    Your sit-in “activism” sounds like a “terrible 2-year-old” in a high chair giving everyone else in the room indigestion. Words actually mean things. Your own hyperbolic accusations demand that you define who’s been harmed for sharing their feelings and perspective, and how they’ve been harmed any worse than you may have harmed others by sharing yours, and why you think that anyone who doesn’t share your own feelings is somehow less human than you, which seems to be the case that you’re making: agree with your feelings, and we’re being “compassionate” and “virtuous”, but include any diversity by showing compassion for any feelings and facts which you deny or don’t agree with, and we’re somehow less than human, which seems to be your argument?

    Well, you can PROJECT your own “clear pattern” of clownishness and paint it onto everyone else for daring to be inclusive of any diversity you don’t happen to feel compassionate about, or you can choose not to oppress other people’s feelings whose experiences may be just as valid as your own, and choose not to attempt to silence and suppress other voices which may be hurting for reasons just as real as – or even more real than – your own reasons for feeling as you do. It’s amazing what listening can do. (Hence, free speech and the 1st Amendment).

    You may like to bang your rattle on your high chair and demand that nobody else’s feelings and experience should matter if they don’t agree with yours, but at the same time, you shout down and refuse to listen to any new information which may demand that you grow a little in your own views and compassion. Instead of being an adult listener who chooses to hear every human person’s experience and reasons with equal empathy, you rail at the rest of us for not instantly serving your feelings alone, like a 2-year-old demanding a candy fix or (more to the point) a diaper change.

    That’s the only “direct harm” that’s actually happening here: your diaper-loaded tantrum is hurting the ears of those choosing to be adults in the room who are here trying to find Love (which is true justice) and genuine peace through clarity and empathy for every human being, not just the ones you choose to acknowledge as human, since that’s what your oppression/suppression attempts to do: dehumanize and dismiss other people as if they are somehow less valuable than you, as if they should never be listened to because they don’t hold the same value in your own feelings as other human beings, which is how Germany’s National Socialists (Nazi’s) viewed the world, and they’re the ones who actually committed atrocities and genocide, not by speaking truths your feelings don’t agree with, but by suppressing, oppressing, dehumanizing, and eliminating any person whose feelings departed from their own pathological narcissism (only their “facts” and feelings mattered). Nobody confronted their tantrum before it got out of control, so maybe you might want to confront your own, before you actually let yours spill over in a way which hurts beyond mere contradiction of feelings (stinky diapers). When you justify your own hate by dehumanizing others, you become the enemy you paint them to be, and that’s truly worth crying about.

    Grow a little, show a gram of humility and scientific inquiry, and have genuine empathy for all your neighbors (i.e. “show a spine” like a grown-up), no matter what false narratives you’re being fed, then get back to the rest of us, and you’ll finally find your safe space: your family. We’re all your family. All of us.

    Look at yourself, question yourself, and Love your neighbor as yourself, since they are just as human as you, just as fallible as you, and just as Lovable as you, in God’s eyes By Any Name, and in each other’s, if we’re honest and choose to value each other the way good parents do, which is Love.

    Kind Regards, with that Love,
    J Hedberg

    P.s. I’m “BIPOC”, but I have different views than every other intersectional person who’s also BIPOC – different views than you, if you can imagine! 😋 So… when you assume you know my opinion just because of how I look or identify, the racist is you: something to keep in mind~

    Reply
    • G

      Greta HedbergDec 5, 2023 at 10:24 pm

      Hey sorry don’t mind my husband John, he loves to yap for no reason. If you got so much to say why don’t you just make your own article. Or get a job.

      Reply
      • J

        John HedbergDec 6, 2023 at 4:53 pm

        Greta Who?, this ad hominem lip service is actually a nice gift from you saying you agree with everything I said, because you had nothing to say against any of it. You’re just against human beings whose lived experiences don’t agree with your feelings, which are about as refined as your headspace, apparently~
        Let me guess: are you oppressed? ~ 😋
        I started work outdoors when I was 12, didn’t have proper clothing or footwear for New England Winters, and suffered from malnutrition for most of my youth. Best estimate is I would be 3 inches taller and several IQ points sharper with proper nutrition, but Mom was a drug addict, and Dad was similarly “pre-occupied”. Tell me more about my “reasons”.
        “Gret-a” clue? 😊

        Reply
        • J

          Jarvis UprDeckyDec 6, 2023 at 9:04 pm

          Not gonna lie I’m not reading all that, your mom is probably on drugs cause you talk to much, respectfully. Take it to a publisher.

          Reply
          • J

            John HedbergDec 7, 2023 at 2:34 pm

            Projection: people tell you that you talk too much, so you imagine everyone else also needs a shoehorn to surgically separate their head from the inside of their alimentary canal. Perhaps I can see why respect and honesty are such sensitive issues for you, with your insecurities and degree of inner clarity. 😋 Cheers~

    • E

      Ellis FosterDec 5, 2023 at 10:55 pm

      This dude fr 😭💀

      Reply
      • A

        Anonymous & AmusedJan 5, 2024 at 1:14 pm

        No kidding, I’ve straight up made a drinking game out of whether or not he replies to an article lmao

        Reply