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(Correction: A typo referencing TPUSA as “Trading Points USA” has been corrected to read “Turning Point USA.”)
Emerson College, a 141-year-old private institution, has reportedly suspended a conservative student group at its Boston campus for the crime of mocking the Chinese Communist Party.
The group, Turning Point USA (TPUSA), “passed out stickers featuring a hammer and sickle with the caption ‘CHINA KINDA SUS'” on Sept. 29th, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
“Sus” is a pejorative slang term short for “suspect” or “suspicious” and used to give the impression that something or someone is untrustworthy.
See a photo of the stickers below:
A student group at @EmersonCollege was suspended and is under investigation for handing out these stickers critical of the Chinese government.
— FIRE (@TheFIREorg) October 5, 2021
Apparently, the stickers offended the campus’s social justice warriors, because on Sept. 30th, Emerson’s Office of International Student Affairs issued a joint statement apologizing for the “stickers that expressed anti-China hate.”
It’s not clear what about the stickers was hateful …
“The Office of International Affairs (OISA), the Office of Intercultural Affairs, and Student Engagement and Leadership (SEAL) and the Social Justice Center (SJC) stand with our students from China, and other Asian-identified and Asian-American community members, to denounce the use of free speech platforms for statements that are used as xenophobic weapons,” the statement read.
“The 1st amendment and US Constitution restricts the government from limiting speech, but words have power and words have consequences. When words are used to create a hostile environment for community members, this can cause true harm. We will not tolerate language or actions that cross this line,” it continued.
All of the organizations listed in the statement support free speech except for when said free speech offends them, meaning they don’t actually support free speech.
This and other statements of denunciation prompted TPUSA to release its own statement via an Instagram clip noting that they’d been criticizing China’s government — i.e., the Chinese Communist Party — and not its people.
“The sticker intends to criticize the Chinese government, the regime responsible for the largest genocide in the world right now. It has nothing to do with Asian ethnicity or Asian culture,” the TPUSA member in the clip said.
“I’m Chinese-Singaporean myself, and I’m offended by people who would suggest that I have hatred toward my own race. As we speak right now, there are two million Uyghur Muslims in Chinese concentration camps who face genocide at the hands of the Chinese government,” she added.
This is true.
View this post on Instagram
The video was posted on Sept. 30th. The following day, TPUSA’s Boston branch received a letter from an Emerson College official announcing that a formal investigation had been launched and that the group was henceforth barred from its regular activities.
“Effective immediately your organization cannot host events on campus, this includes but is not limited to hosting programs, meetings and/or tabling. This interim action means that you are not permitted to book or reserve space on campus. Failure to comply with this interim action could result in additional sanctions, up and including dismissal from the College,” the letter read.
Greatly dissatisfied by this treatment, TPUSA quickly reached out to FIRE, and thanks to that prompt move, Emerson College is now the one under intense fire.
“FIRE is concerned by Emerson College’s suspension, investigation, and initiation of misconduct charges against a student organization and its members due to its distribution of stickers critical of the government of the People’s Republic of China,” the civil rights group wrote to the college’s top officials in a letter dated Oct. 5th.
“Criticism of governments is core political expression protected by principles of free expression that Emerson pledges to uphold. … Given the urgent nature of this matter, we request receipt of a response to this letter no later than the close of business on Friday, October 8, 2021, confirming that Emerson has closed its investigation and will not pursue disciplinary sanctions in this matter,” the letter continued.
As of Thursday morning, the school had roughly 24 hours left to respond or face the possible wrath of FIRE. The foundation has a history of many successful lawsuits.
Meanwhile, the public had some questions of their own for Emerson College:
At @EmersonCollege, “independent minds give voice to daring ideas,” unless those minds criticize the CCP. Why is that?
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) October 6, 2021
Why is a western college concerned about the reputation of a communist country?
I mean, I know why… I’m just hoping everyone else can figure it out too.
— 提督 Aegis (@AdmiralAegis) October 6, 2021
You claim to give voice to daring ideas but any voice daring to oppose China is too much for you?
— Toshimbo (@Toshimbo1) October 6, 2021
@EmersonCollege is looking kinds #sus for suspending students over criticizing China. Will sus now be a trigger warning? Does China need a safe space? Why would you care? Seems awfully authoritarian that a student cant criticize another country. Sounds China like.
— Senior Boobies (@SeniorBoobies) October 6, 2021
Why do you guys think the Ccp is above criticism???
— Ya Boy B (@basedonwat) October 7, 2021
Great! So China is above criticism on campus because…*checks notes*… people will conflate the Chinese government with Asian Americans…
— Bar Tur Abdin ܒܪ ܛܘܼܪ ܥܒ݂ܕܝܼܢ 🌲🇱🇧🇺🇸☦️ (@IbnChristo) October 7, 2021
“If anything is ‘kinda sus,’ it’s Emerson’s overblown response to the stickers. This investigation will cause students and faculty to suspect that their rights mean nothing to the college,” FIRE attorney Adam Steinbaugh, the author of the letter to Emerson College, said in a statement.
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