The Daily Evergreen

Schulz responds to legislators’ RSO letter

Schulz responded by highlighting campus resources and clarifying information alluded to in the legislator's letter

WSU President Kirk Schulz named John Johnson as interim athletic director.

WSU President Kirk Schulz named John Johnson as interim athletic director.

RACHEL SUN | Daily Evergreen file

RACHEL SUN | Daily Evergreen file

WSU President Kirk Schulz named John Johnson as interim athletic director.

JENNIFER LADWIG, Evergreen reporter

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WSU President Kirk Schulz responded to members of the Washington State Legislature (see below) after they sent a letter to Schulz asking the university to revoke the WSU College Republicans’ status as an official Registered Student Organization.

Schulz did not specifically name the College Republicans until the end of the letter, in the ninth paragraph, to clarify Allsup’s resignation and how he did not represent the RSO in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In the paragraphs before, he pointed to progress made under the “Drive to 25” initiative, such as the opening of the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center, national search for Associate Vice President of Community, Equity and Inclusive Excellence and the Campus Culture and Climate initiative announced in May.

Schulz also gave statements about providing equal free speech protections for even the most disagreeable speech, as he did after it was revealed Allsup was at the “Unite the Right” rally.

“Student organizations regularly bring speakers with divergent viewpoints to campus,” he wrote. “We support those efforts and work with students, even when we are challenged by, confronted through, or fundamentally disagree with the content of these messages.”

Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, who led the drafting of the letter, said that there is documentation by media outlets that shows the group’s activities went beyond free speech.

“[The WSU College Republicans] had intended to target and provoke a response that would make it fearful for some to attend WSU,” Pollet said.

Pollet has said WSU should develop a clear definition of hate speech and work with RSOs to create a less hostile environment on campus.

This echoes previous sentiments expressed by campus activists, who have pointed out the ambiguity of hate speech in the context of university policy. After meetings with the organizers of the August sit-in, university administration agreed to have a draft of policy addressing hate speech by the beginning of next semester.

The original letter was signed by 12 Washington state Democrats, but did not include signatures from District 9 Representatives Mary Dye or Joe Schmick, or Senator Mark Schoesler.

The legislators wrote that they believe a climate of fear and distrust has been created by recent events, such as the involvement of former club president James Allsup’s participation in the “Unite the Right” rally and controversial demonstrations on campus.

By allowing the College Republicans to maintain their status as an RSO and receive funding and special access to the student body and resources, the legislators said the university sanctioned their activities.

James Allsup resigned as club president shortly after Twitter account Yes, You’re Racist posted a photo of him at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the attendance of which included white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederate and neo-Nazis. In his response to Pollet, Schulz clarified no state funds, student funds or university resources facilitated Allsup’s attendance in Charlottesville.

Current WSU College Republicans President Amir Rezamand, who replaced Allsup after his recent resignation, said he supports civil dialogue. He said the Legislature can write what they wish to the university about the club, but he stands with Schulz’s statements about speech.

Rezamand has previously told the Daily Evergreen that the College Republicans believe in an open marketplace of ideas, but planned events will be policy-driven and education-minded over provocative, such as last October’s Trump wall rally.

Additional reporting by Rebecca White and Jessica Zhou

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About the Writer
JENNIFER LADWIG, Former Evergreen mint editor

Jennifer Ladwig is a senior communication major from Washougal. During her time at the Evergreen, she has served as copy editor, life editor, editor-in-chief and mint editor. She is set to graduate in May 2018.

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Schulz responds to legislators’ RSO letter