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Letter writers Kelly Winfrey, Novotny Lawrence and Lindsay Moeller speak out to those who signed the open letter calling for action on the student organization Iowa State College Republicans.

Editor's Note: This letter has been updated to include a link of the university response.

We write to address everyone who signed the Open Letter Calling for Action on the ISU College Republicans, all who supported but didn’t feel they could sign and especially everyone who feels unsafe on campus:

As coauthors of the letter sent last week, we are sorry.

We are sorry more won’t be done about this instance. We are sorry the university has not acted as swiftly and decisively to protect you as it did a student organization.

We are sorry the administration did not address the entire campus community directly about this incident, which made you feel unsafe and unwelcome in what should feel like your home, and that you may not have known how to access or read the response from university administration to our open letter until now.

We are sorry the administration’s response didn’t address the concerns we raised about the climate created by the numerous tweets by the ISU College Republicans. Despite the implications in the administration’s letter, we want to make it abundantly clear that we understand, value, respect and believe in the rights guaranteed to all citizens by the First Amendment.

To clarify, our letter asked the administration to explain why the tweets made by the College Republicans constituted protected speech. The administration’s response states that speech is protected unless it creates “severe and pervasive harassment that substantially interferes with students’ education.” The administration did not explain why the College Republicans’ series of tweets disparaging members of underrepresented groups and issuing a call to “arm up” does not meet this standard, even though they made students feel unsafe on campus.

We are sorry that the university administration directed those who feel unsafe to contact a resource for help — the police — that disproportionately harms or kills members of the very populations we were trying to protect by demanding action.

We are sorry that the university is calling for education that will disproportionately tax members of historically marginalized populations by using their emotional labor and time to justify their very existences in spaces in which they already feel unsafe.

We are sorry the Principles of Community are not enforceable.

More than 750 people signed our letter, a clear indication that people's concerns are real and that there is support for change on the Iowa State campus. If you are one of the many people who felt attacked and threatened by the numerous tweets from a student organization, please know there are people who will listen to you, support you and stand up for you.

We will remain unapologetic in our efforts and continue to work for you, to call out hate and to push for university policies — and enforcement of those policies — that reflect the values of diversity and inclusion it espouses.

Last, we wish to clarify that we sign this letter as individuals concerned about the Iowa State campus community and not on behalf of or as representatives of Iowa State or of the units in which we are employed.


Kelly Winfrey, Novotny Lawrence, Lindsay Moeller

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(5) comments

Benjamin Rittgers

I would think that a professor of journalism would be more familiar with the First Amendment to the Constitution. Apparently, the signers of the open letter against the ISU College Republicans need to brush up on their knowledge of the Constitution and what a state institute like Iowa State may or may not do. The answer to speech you disagree with is more speech, not censorship.

Chico Fuentes

The letter is hilarious and disheartening at the same time.

Talk about going heavy on the melodrama: So now a tweet is a "tax" on the "emotional labor" of so-called "historically marginalized populations." Just wow. Are you sure it isn't "literally" the denial of the "existence" of those who are the "other"? (LOL. It's really easy to paint by numbers, ad the letter's authors did. Just toss together a few terms from the grievance-speak lexicon and there you are.)

Anyway, the authors are wrong. Their rather rote recitation of offense doesn't get them anywhere. What they're complaining about is just a tweet. It's not stalking them, ,or hiding around a corner waiting for you. It's simply a set of words. Words that you are welcome to ignore if you don't like them. If reading and thinking a tweet really ties up a lot of bandwidth in anyone's head, that's far more a commentary on the reader's capabilities than on the tweet.

The letter is so overwrought that one imagines the authors in near-meltdown states. All over a tweet. Nothing personal, but I'm getting some good belly laughs out of their almost unbelievable overreaction.

The disheartening part is that there are fair numbers of similar students and others around -- with ultra-thin skins, and apparent obsessions with finding excuses to be "offended."

Finally, kudos to the ISU College Republicans for providing amusement. It probably was pretty predictable that some campus denizens would respond, in Pavlovian fashion, with some kind of paroxysm.

Chico Fuentes

Better not disagree too vehemently with the letter, or you'll get censored.

Blow me, snowflakes.

Chico Fuentes

Oops. Me of so little faith. Guess getting censored right and left has left me fast on the trigger.

J. T.

(sarcasm/parody) *This article is so offensive, and it makes me feel unsafe. I demand that Iowa state change its policies and violate people's rights so that no similar articles can be posted in the future*

Mind your own business people, and stop virtue signaling by saying you're just trying to protect "marginalized communities".

call me up when they actually get violent, until then, stop complaining.

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