Students say they feel unsafe on campus, taking to using #NotSafeUNC on Twitter
David Horowitz’s visit sparked concern among students.
Horowitz was invited by the UNC College Republicans and said in his speech that student organizations like the Muslim Students’ Association and Students for Justice in Palestine are connected to terrorist organizations.
Nicole Fauster, a senior who helped start the hashtag movement on Wednesday emphasized that this movement was created for students of any marginalized identity.
“It came out of a desire to create a platform for students to be able to explain and share their own situations and experiences and incidents that have happened to them on campus that have made feel unsafe,” she said.
On Thursday, The College Republicans released a statement on their Facebook page in response to the reaction to Horowitz’s lecture. The statement said the student group believed safety is not the concern.
Frank Pray, chairman of the College Republicans, echoed this sentiment.
“I think it’s a little disingenuous to be claiming feelings of unsafety from remarks made by a speaker who lectures on college campuses fairly regularly,” Pray said. “I think that being uncomfortable is not the same thing as being unsafe.”
Andrew Wood, the chairman of the Student Safety and Security Committee of Student Congress, was also active on #NotSafeUNC. In response to the statement released by the College Republicans, Wood said he believed campus safety can always be improved.
“I don’t believe the campus is as safe as it possibly could be, and I think it’s a little bit ignorant to think that every student is just as safe as another student — to ignore, race, gender, ethnicity and various other minority statuses that you could identify with as being a risk to your safety,” he said.
“I think it’s wrong to ignore that.”
He said the committee wants to try to amend the definition of safety in the Student Code to include perceived safety in the coming year.
“The very fact that there’s even a campaign that exists for this shows that students don’t feel safe, that minority students don’t feel included,” Wood said.
Andrew Brennen, senior advisor to Student Body President Houston Summers, said he disagreed with the idea that students did not need to fear for their safety.
“For a group to say ‘No, Muslim students on campus should not feel unsafe, people of color should not feel unsafe,’ two months after three of them were shot and killed is just honestly quite ridiculous,” Brennen said.
“I’m dumbfounded by that statement. It just does not make any sense to me.”
Pray said the shootings in February were tragic but shouldn’t postpone events like Horowitz’s lecture.
“Academic discourse can’t stop because of tragic events that happened,” Pray said. “It would be dishonorable to the lives of the students that we have lost to stop looking into things and looking for the truth just because that did happen.”
Brennen said he identified with the movement, especially as an African-American gay man on campus.
“I felt that it really encapsulated a lot of what I was feeling and what I think that other students were probably feeling as well,” Brennen said. “And that is that there is an environment on campus that does not feel as welcoming as it could be.”
Fauster noted that this issue isn’t related solely to one incident, but pertains to the larger campus climate.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to push back, and we’re going to make noise and say that this type of speech, although you have the right to say whatever you want, is causing a climate of insecurity.”
Brennen said though he is a supporter of freedom of speech, Horowitz’s speech was unacceptable.
“I love intellectual diversity, but I do not think that intellectual diversity should be used as a means to target students on campus.”
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