Drake University students received an email from President Martin on Friday condemning the threatening language used by a Drake professor. Her public tweets, which circulated on Facebook this past week, called for Republicans to “suffer,” likened Fox & Friends reporters to Nazis, and attacked both Republican politicians and party members with a slew of explicit language. Drake College Republicans is appalled by this faculty member’s colorful language toward conservatives and appreciates Drake’s administration taking the first step of recognizing it as a problem.
Drake College Republicans stands proudly for freedom of speech and expression. We welcome diverse thoughts and ideologies and have continuously encouraged open dialogue in events such as our “free speech ball,” where students are invited to share their views and opinions. Drake College Republicans always has and always will fight for free speech and expression on our campus. While we recognize this professor’s right to express herself, we also believe in holding people accountable to their words. This professor’s tweets were intended to demean and belittle Republican viewpoints rather than promote legitimate political debate, which our institution stands for. Furthermore, this speech was used by a member of the Drake community with considerable influence as a professor. Her tweets and behavior toward the Republican Party translate to not only Drake’s campus, but the classroom environment. It is detrimental to Drake’s institution and threatening to conservative students who have been made to feel unaccepted, unappreciated, and unwelcome in their classroom. We cannot be silent and let this hostility continue at Drake University.
After the email from President Martin, many Drake students took to Twitter to express their frustration. Rather than debating the issue at hand, members of the Drake community attacked our organization and its members. We may disagree on political issues, but it was sorrowful to see certain members of the Drake community personally target us and our organization this past week.
According to Drake’s most recent Campus Climate Survey, over one third of respondents believed that political differences have caused hostile conduct at our University, 71% of Republicans who reported experiencing harassment on campus indicated that it was due to their political beliefs, and 33% of respondents have considered leaving Drake because of the intolerant campus climate. These statistics are alarming. While this professor’s tweets are concerning and need to be addressed, they are only part of a greater problem. Drake University has a culture of intolerance toward its conservative students. It is essential that Drake not only address this professor’s behavior, but that they take action to prevent these problems from occurring in the future.
Republican, Democrat, or other, we all need to work on improving our political atmosphere on campus. As the largest Republican chapter at Drake, we want to work with our Democrat friends this semester to bring in more bipartisan speakers and hold more bipartisan events. This is to showcase that we can disagree, but we can do so civilly and work together to improve our campus climate.
We ask that you join us. Let’s put aside partisan politics and seek out meaningful and rational political discourse on this campus. This year, more than ever, we look forward to working with Democrat and Republican students to promote and provide resources to get involved, find common ground, and educate each other on our political parties and platforms.
“It is time to be… very brave. Brave enough to speak with people we fear, to face the nuances of our bias, to recognize the frailty of humanity, and to forgive.”
― Professor Eitan Hersh