We had posted the “It’s OK to Come Out” signs to advertise our introductory event way back in November (The You Tube Debate Watching Party) and they were left alone. So our group did not did expect such a reaction that occurred this week.
The Swarthmore College Republicans used the terminology “It’s Ok To Come Out” to bring forth to to the reality that stigmas exist against conservative students on campus. Further, dozens of College Republican groups nationwide ranging from schools such as Brandeis, Wellesley, and U. Michigan have all sponsored successful “Conservative Coming Out Days” or “Conservative Coming Out Weeks” as academia has trended to be increasingly liberal recently and the speech rights of conservative students appear to be impinged upon. Believe it or not many students at Swarthmore and elsewhere label themselves as “closeted conservatives” due to the social consequences by being outspoken at an environment as polarizing at Swarthmore.
All such advertising and events are trying to bring forth to light serious questions i.e. Do professors impose their viewpoints on students through lecture and classroom readings? Many students have mentioned that at Swarthmore they feel the need to alter their personal views in papers, because if espouse conservative viewpoints they might receive a lower grade. Again, we ask fellow Swathmore students: “When was the last time you allowed a Republican to defend their views at Sharples?” So in educating the student body for bi-partisan America, Swarthmore and other institutions should reflect on whether “the other side” is being silenced. To promote discussion and dialogue we have events such as a Ring Discussion and lectures are in planning for this semester.
Regarding the “counter-flyers”, first and foremost, my greatest disappointment to this hour, is that Tatiana Cozzarelli, or any of the other perpetrators, failed to contact me with their issues with our flyers. Such contact could have proved worthy dialogue. By choosing to remain anonymous, there was no one for my group “to reach out to”. Secondly, as the original counter-posters stated, the Swarthmore College Republicans takes great offense by being grouped into “homophobic organizations”. In fact, we’ve had discussions at several meetings and learned that our membership has little interest in the social conservative platform of the National GOP. Again if Tatiana and others merely attended one of meetings she would have learned this discussion had taken place. I would describe the viewpoints of our membership as Rockefeller Republican : socially moderate, fiscally conservative, strong on defense with little interest in the “defense of marriage” issue.
Additionally, the language of SQU Coming Out Week has been paralleled several times on campus without producing such controversy. “Geek Coming Out Week” has been a staple of the Swarthmore community for the past several years. SCCS has directly parodied SQU slogans with such chalkings as “Your Tour Guide May use Linux”. or “Firefox! Recruit! Recruit! Recruit! Given this backdrop it appears the culprit of this flyering seems to possibly more motivated against Republicans in general rather than the supposed parallels of language.
Lastly , as the Phoenix reported in November when a generic College Republican poster was hung in Willets in November it was defaced and torn down. Given this, we wonder whether such actions of defacement and flyer removal are truly about the Swarthmore College Republicans appropriating language used by LGBT groups or simply fellow students resentment of a well organized, well-publicized Republican group on campus. Again, Tatiana Cozzarelli and the other perpetrators could have easily e-mailed us, but instead they chose to engage in a fruitless “flyer war” and attempted to rally students against the College Republicans through e-mailing nearly a dozen campus listervs on Monday morning, most of which were unrelated to the LGBT community.
We just wanted people to come to our meetings. 9:30 on Sundays, Kohlberg Coffee Bar. Hope to see you around.
Justin Blake Shaffer
President of the Swarthmore College Republicans