The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is calling on Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts to end censorship of the Turning Point USA student group on campus, which went into effect after students handed out stickers criticizing the Communist Party Chinese.
The stickers, which the national organization Turning Point USA created years ago, feature a character from the popular video game Between usin which players try to guess who among their fellow participants is an enemy posing as an ally.
The stickers also include the words “China kinda sus,” another reference to the popular. “Sus”, typically used by members of Generation Z, stands for “suspect” or “suspect”.
“It contains a symbol of the Communist Party of China, which should make it clear that it was referring to the Chinese government and not the Chinese people,” a TPUSA student said of the sticker.
“We were handing out stickers, and then the next day — the president made a statement calling us racists,” the student added.
The student went on to say that school administrators suspended the TPUSA group the following day, without speaking to the students or asking them to provide any explanation for their material.
In a letter to the “Emerson community,” College interim president William Gilligan wrote, “It occurred to me that several people were handing out stickers.”
The stickers, Gilligan said, “included anti-Chinese messages that are inconsistent with the College’s values and will not be tolerated on our campus,” adding that “the expression of free ideas cannot and should not violate these standards.”
“At this particular time when there has been an increase in anti-Asian sentiment, it is important that we report all instances of anti-Asian bigotry and hatred and affirm our support and solidarity with the Asian and Asian-American community on campuses and around the world,” he wrote.
The interim president added that Emerson College and its Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct will launch an investigation into the stickers.
“Our vice president is Asian,” the TPUSA group’s conservative student said on campus. “A third of all our members were Asian, many of them Chinese. So it’s very strange that Emerson calls us anti-Asian when we are one of the friendliest clubs in Emerson.
Emerson finally admitted that the sticker was critical of the Chinese government, not its own people. But the college still punished the student group for “bias-related behavior,” arguing that the sticker may be unintentionally contributing to anti-Asian discrimination, FIRE said.
FIRE told Breitbart News that since the sticker incident, Emerson College has continued to censor the Turning Point USA student group, in violation of its commitment to uphold students’ free speech rights.
In one example, administrators prevented one of TPUSA’s student leaders from posting flyers on campus in response to an editorial in the student newspaper that criticized the conservative student organization.
In October, the trustees refused to approve the screening of a free speech documentary on campus. A third case in November involved administrators preventing the TPUSA club from posting promotional materials on campus for the documentary to be shown What is a woman?
FIRE said yes filed a complaint with Emerson’s accrediter, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), explaining that these several cases have chilled student expression on campus, in violation of its accrediter’s requirements.
The organization says it hopes this complaint to NECHE will “finally force Emerson to respect freedom of expression on campus.”