A Young Americans for Freedom chapter meeting at the University of Kansas erupted into shouts and chaos Thursday when students from outside of the club barged in to protest a remark by the group’s president.
The disruption took place in response to a video that student Micha Cox posted on Facebook earlier this week claiming that she was harassed while walking home because she is a transgender.
Students then arranged a “Stand with ME” event to take place on September 27 to stand “in solidarity against the injustices that continue to happen in this country.”
“There is no more time for excuses as well as there is no more time for hesitation to take action. Stop MURDERING black men, stop MURDERING trans* women of color, and STOP making excuses for police brutality running rampant. I hope that you will stand with me,” the event page goes on to say.
Gabriel Lepinski, the chairman of the YAF chapter, then shared the event page with group members, saying, “this is why this group is so important. Facts don’t care about your feelings, even if you shout them as loudly as you can on wescoe beach”(a central location on campus where students come together to meet).
Shortly after posting this, another Facebook user shared it saying “yas queen fuck me up,” and another commented “Gatta [sic] love the publicity of it all, also can we give him a round of applause for just further justifying our cause[?]”
Following that exchange, many of the students involved with the Stand with ME event showed up at the second YAF meeting of the semester, three of whom were invited after asking how to attend, to which Lepinski responded by asking only that they “bring an open mind and respect everyone there.”
Lepinski says he welcomed these students for a discussion, but “it dissolved into them arguing with us for being white supremacists because we are white”.
In the video, several students attend the meeting to have a discussion about Black Lives Matter, racism, safe spaces, and other topics relating to social justice.
One of the visiting students told the YAF members that they posted a derogatory word in the screenshot above by saying “facts don’t care about your feelings,” a phrase commonly used by frequent YAF speaker Ben Shapiro.
“I’m pretty sure ya’ll meant not facts, but another word,” the student speculates indignantly. When a YAF members pressed the student for elaboration, the response is that “‘fags’ is what the word is supposed to be meant.”
The demonstrators also discussed safe spaces, or more specifically, complained about the lack of them at KU.
“I don’t study in the library because I don’t feel comfortable with people always wondering what my gender identity is and how I express myself, and I don’t feel comfortable being in classrooms where I am supposed to speak as a transhuman and as a queer person as all queer people,” one student whined. “That shows you that there is a problem with this institution about there not being—that these students are not being taught that they are supposed to create safe spaces.”
Cox, who was also present for the conversation, declared emphatically that “safe spaces are a necessity” and making clear that she would brook no dissent on the matter.
“It’s not a question. It’s not for you to say. It’s not for anyone else to say. Safe spaces are necessary because the institution that we’re at is not a safe space in its entirety,” she claimed. “We have to carve out places and fight for places that we feel safe because not only will we get harassed, we’ll be murdered, we’ll be all this stuff and discriminated against because we have to do that. It’s not because we want to.”
Lipinski attempted to define the term “intellectual safe spaces” as “the idea that you can’t retreat from…” but he is cut off by another student shouting and banging on the table
“I am not retreating,” the student yells. “I am making myself safe and comfortable.”
Another student even told the YAF group that “it is not your right to say that safe spaces should not exist.”
At times the discussion got hostile, such as when one student accused a YAF member of participating in “white fragility” defining the term to mean “the defensiveness when you are attacked about your privilege—and I’ll even say attacked because of the tone I’m talking to you in. Like I said, white fragility. Look it the fuck up.”
At one point, one of the visiting students accused Lepinski of being a white supremacist, affirming that “Yes, I am calling you, and you can get it on video, I am calling you a white supremacist.”
“So regardless, if you guys think freedom of speech allows you to spew hatred, it isn’t allowed,” another protester erroneously claimed.
Later in the discussion, the issue of “institutional racism” arises when one of the demonstrators claims that her university is a perfect example of that sort of pervasive discrimination.
“Well, when I come from a high school that didn’t have access to AP classes, meaning I didn’t have the same access or quality of education that my white counterparts did, then I’m expected to ride along on campus and compete at the same collegiate level when my family has not amassed enough wealth that they came out of child slavery to literally pay for my education so I go into debt, and I graduate with debt when my white counterparts do not,” she rambled, then confused her audience further by adding that “because we got Trump as president [sic] you think that white supremacy is okay.”
At one point in the video, the discussion got so loud and concerning that a staff member entered the room to see what was going on. He was greeted by the visiting students after Lepinski asked him if they were too loud.
“Listen, we don’t get policed by Quisenberry, either,” the anti-YAF protesters interjected. “Nobody.”
Students continued to express “disgust” with the YAF group in comments on the video Cox posted of the confrontation, with one individual even asking “Is there anything we can do to stop this group from continuing?”
Lepinski expressed disappointment with the way the evening unfolded, saying that he had hoped for an actual discussion but ended up with little more than a shouting match.
“I had a feeling it would get out of hand,” he told Campus Reform, “but I truly did expect for people to come and voice opposition and for there to be serious and meaningful debate, not chaos and petulance.”
See the full 30+-minute video from Young America’s Foundation on YouTube.