A display at Hood College intended to spark discussion of hot-button topics has instead been met with criticism and possible penalties for the creators if the college determines they violated school policy.

The Hood College Republicans club on Tuesday decorated a glass case displayed in the Whitaker Student Center with material highlighting conservative viewpoints on topics including abortion and transgender people. Club members said they intended the display, which is available for student groups to use on a rotating basis, to highlight conservative culture and to invite an open discussion of different beliefs.

But students, alumni and faculty instead framed the controversial quotations and images as hateful and threatening, particularly to the minority groups mentioned in the material. Some have called for the display to be removed ahead of the scheduled takedown next Tuesday.

Hood President Andrea Chapdelaine in an email sent to students, faculty and staff Thursday called for the college to review the messages based on “college procedures” to determine if the display violated campus policies, “with appropriate sanctions to follow if such a determination be made.” The email did not specify the procedure or penalties.

Chapdelaine also sent an email Wednesday in response to concerns from students, faculty and alumni, some of whom had called for the display to be removed. A new display would otherwise take its place on Tuesday based on the scheduled rotation.

Chapdelaine wrote that “as an educational community, our best response is not with the act of taking down a display, but in how to move forward.”

In the email, she invited members of the campus community to attend a student-organized forum scheduled for Tuesday.

Concerns, criticism

A steady stream of students and faculty stopped by the second floor of the student center to see the display, which was still up as of early Thursday afternoon.

One person pointed to a quote from Ben Shapiro, a conservative political commentator and writer. Shapiro was quoted as saying, “transgender people are unfortunately suffering from a significant mental illness, and it is not a solution to pretend that transgender people are the sex that they think they are in their head. Biology is biology; men can’t magically become women and women can’t magically become men.”

Lynda Sowbel, director of and teacher in the college’s social work program, singled out this quote as particularly hateful.

“Some of these things might make students who are here feel threatened, and that’s not OK,” she said.

Hanan Zinab, president of the Hood Black Student Union, voiced a similar opinion.

“For me, it’s not freedom of speech,” said Zinab, 20. “It’s freedom of hatred.”

Black people were also singled out in the display.

One poster depicted a photo of a black female toddler and the words “Let’s talk about race ... abortion is the number one killer of black lives in the United States.” Another stated, “the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”

Kris Fair, a Hood graduate who was president of the college’s LGBTQ club when he was still a student, denounced the display as “an unfounded piece of propaganda.” Fair, who is running as a Democrat for the city’s Board of Aldermen, also heads the board of directors of The Frederick Center, an LGTBQ service and advocacy agency. His comments represented his personal views, he said.

Fair called for the college to review “what it means to allow free speech,” adding that he thought there should be “requirements for some respect behind the language you’re using.”

Paula Del Valle, a 20-year-old junior and member of the Hood College Democrats club, wasn’t sure if she thought the display should be removed. But she was certain in her disagreement with some of the statements and ideology represented on that board, calling it “divisive and hurtful.”

“I don’t think it represents Hood,” she said.

Sowbel, who has worked at Hood for 17 years, also highlighted the college’s inclusiveness, naming gender-neutral bathrooms as one example.

Jordyn Curtis, 20, vice president of the Black Student Union, also said she didn’t feel that black students at Hood were targeted with racist remarks or actions. But the display’s more controversial statements about blacks were still a knock on what is a relatively small black student population, she said.

Club’s response

Christopher Gardner, president of the college Republicans, addressed concerns with the display in a phone interview Thursday. He said it was “unfortunate” that some students were hurt by the messages in the display, but maintained that the club achieved its original intention of inviting conversation about the topics.

“We just wanted to provoke thoughtful discussion,” said Gardner, 22, a senior. “We have done that.”

He added that the display includes information for the Republicans club meeting on Sunday, inviting people of all viewpoints to an open discussion.

The viewpoints expressed in the display do not reflect everything that individual members of the club, including himself, believe. For example, he said he has many friends and a relative who identify as transgender.

He also said he did not see the materials included in the display until he helped to put them up Tuesday. Two other members of his club pitched the idea to put up the display and chose the materials included, he said.

The college’s student life center approves proposals for what goes in the display case. Gardner said he thought the faculty who approved the Republicans’ display knew the general concept but not specific materials.

Travis Eichelberger, the college’s assistant director of student engagement and coordinator of diversity and inclusion, did not respond to a phone call and an email Thursday seeking more information.

The display was put up Tuesday, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that the “firestorm” of reactions began, according to Gardner. He named Facebook and Twitter as the most pervasive ways he’d been contacted.

Some people expressed support, he said. Others were more critical, and even bullied club members, according to Gardner.

He hoped critics and supporters alike would attend the club’s Sunday meeting for a “civil” discussion.

Follow Nancy Lavin on Twitter: @NancyKLavin.

Nancy Lavin covers social services, demographics and religion for The Frederick News-Post.

(68) comments

IsBubba

As a member of the conservative majority of this country, I find what appears to be the official response (as well as the majority student/alumni response) at Hood to be offensive.

Unlike Hood and it's majority of constituents, I however recognize that they can do as they please as far as making their rules on a private campus. IF, however, they are getting federal funding, it is NOT ok. If that is the case, there should be legal sanctions and other actions taken should these conservative student's free speech be violated ... and it IS free speech we're talking about here (and quite logical speech at that).

Maximus300

Correct me if I am wrong but no one is required to view the display. Calls to remove the display does not alter the fact that some people have different opinions on controversial subject matter. Just because you take it personally does not mean it was intended for you. Just because you call it hate speech, does not make it so. This idea that you can stifle and stop opinions with which you disagree with verbal and/or physical assault is 180 degrees at odds with the values this country was founded on. Take on ideas and opinions with which you disagree with logic and facts that are grounded in reality. Emotional outrage is useless unless it is backed up with honesty and respect for every one's rights.

public-redux

"The Hood College Republicans club on Tuesday decorated a glass case displayed in the Whitaker Student Center with material highlighting conservative viewpoints on topics including abortion and transgender people."

Some of those viewpoints are popular amongst some Republicans but they aren't especially conservative. "Government knows best" isn't a conservative position.

Peanutbutter147

I am all for everyone having their own opinion and being able to express their opinions. It's a right that all of us have as US citizens and no one should be able to take it from us. But my main concern is the fact that students are now beginning to feel threatened and unsafe on their own campus - a place they call home at least for now. If you can't feel safe in your own home, then what can you do? Because they are such hot topics right now, especially the topic of being transgender, it would be very educational to debate them; however, with the harsh manner in which they were presented it seems like more of a shot at them rather than a call for discussion. Call them overreacting all you want, they have every right to feel threatened especially because of the craziness going on in the world. It wasn't so long ago that Orlando happened and a display like this could be the fire fueler for something similar. We need to be respectful of each other when debating, not hurtful or hateful.

IsBubba

With "what is going on in the world today," it is the (apparently) minority conservative student's at Hood who should be, and I'm sure are, feeling rightfully concerned. They leftists are the one's showing a propensity for violence ... actual violence. They're the ones rioting and looting and threatening and beating up old people in the streets. The Orlando offender was a gay himself, and nearly every mass shooter's been a left-wing ideologue.

The majority left at this school needs to grow-up and put their big-girl and big-boy pants on. Other people have quite a bit more intelligent opinions than them, and they could use a non-leftist, truthful education to counter their indoctrination.

Moon otter

Though it is a free country to espoused any idea sometimes one has to draw the line. Hate is hate. It is something my parents never taught me to do. One needs to be accepting of all kinds of folks. It seems some individuals need to grow up. Yes it may be free but not only do you have the right to say something but you may be responsible for the reaction you will get from what you say. Sometimes it is hard to change hatred against individuals who aren't like you.

threecents

As a confirmed liberal on most issues, I don't see anything wrong with allowing the display. Stuff like that should be discussed in colleges - in and out of classrooms.

DickD

I agree, sort of. Sort of because some people will get emotional and that is not good. Yet, it would be good for discussion and understanding. I hope it meets this purpose.

riccicc

If the school's students, faculty and alumni already consider it a "threat," then it shows that the school is already in a biased condition and is hateful toward any views that run counter to their liberal/socialist culture. This also proves the college does not meet its academic goals in encouraging ideas for the sake of learning and is therefore a "failed school of learning."

joelp77440

It must stay, this is democracy. Giving viewpoints a chance to express themselves even if you disagree with it. I am a proud democrat but understand the delicate balance of civility and the Republic. Taking this down simply because some disagree with its message is anit-1st amendment. There is no direct hate expressed in the display, only some people who have represented hate are listed.

nbouqu1

And whether we like it or not, the courts have been quite clear that hate speech is just that, speech. And protected under the 1st Amendment. For a painfully on point example, see Westboro Baptist Church. They are 1st Amendment Trolls. They show up to "protest" in the most offensive way possible, goading politicians into squashing their rights, then turn around and sue that state and local government for damages, winning millions of dollars in the process.

ehpercy

So Mr. Gardener, you wanted to "provoke a thoughtful discussion" by posting stuff on your window from the extreme right of your party. So when are you going to have the forum for this "thoughtful discussion" to defend your position or be proven wrong?

tonyc51

"He added that the display includes information for the Republicans club meeting on Sunday, inviting people of all viewpoints to an open discussion." Did you read the article, or just the headline?

ehpercy

Coming to there meeting is not an open forum of debate. The same would also be true if it was the Democrats or any other advocacy organization. His invitation is an empty gesture.

tonyc51

So what would you have him do? I know that whatever he chose would not be satisfactory to those who do not tolerate diversity of thought.

ehpercy

Neutrality moderated forum. Oh but you would claim some sort of bias.

Traderarb99

Parents and alumni - if you want this college administration supported PC nonsense to stop (at all schools), don't send your kids there and stop making donations. Boycotts work both ways.

tonyc51

just another indication that if you do think like the progressives, you have no right to be seen nor heard. That is the attitude that is wrong. Open minds lead to dialog and inclusion, not the other way.

tonyc51

meant "do not"

Whoknows

tonyc51 [thumbup]

teapartier

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

-William F. Buckley Jr.

Nuklearweasel

They should include a Russian translation of their display. And talk about why they only care about undeveloped fetuses and not full grown adults that are born and not cared for.

Dwasserba

You can keep your nasty old opinions. Attempts at supressing are wrongheaded, however. Heck, I can find things I don't agree with in a church bulletin. There is no "discussing" anymore, only over reacting.

Traderarb99

Quick....someone gather puppies, kittens and coloring books for immediate delivery to the Hood college safe space for privileged and sheltered crybabies. Please also include a copy of the Constitution and courage for the faculty and staff.

CDReid

I love it!! [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][beam]

DomoB

While free speech may protect this display the private institution of Hood College has its own policies in place and Policy 55 easily condemns this display. Policy 55 is very broad and wide sweeping but I'm sure they wrote it as such for a reason.

chocomonkey

The way to address points of view you disagree with our find offensive is to offer other points of view. The "cure" for what someone thinks is offensive speech is more speech. Flood the public discourse with thoughts and ideas. I don't agree with everything posted by the students but I applaud their efforts to create more dialogue.

CDReid

When libs go out and riot, loot, and destroy other people's property because a pathological liar didn't win the presidential election, it's called "freedom of speech" and "expressing themselves." When conservative students put up a display expressing views, views laden with truths, it's called "mean and hurtful." and " freedom of hatred." The truth is men cannot magically become women and women cannot magically become men, no matter how much those people may think that it's possible. The truth is abortions are the number one killer of blacks in America, just as the truth is that the leading cause of death of black males between the ages of 15 and 34 is other black males between the ages of 15 and 34, with murder being the leading method. If you don't like these facts, do something to change them! Sugar coating them, looking the other way, or trying to sweep them under the rug is not going to eliminate them. I applaud these kids for standing up to a liberal institution like Hood and expressing their opinions.

Whoknows

CDReid, I applaud your post! I'm so sick and tired of liberals being able to "express" themselves through violence and hatred yet when conservatives express their viewpoints (via facts, as you stated), it is deemed in violation of policy or is automatically considered racist. Liberals need to stop turning a blind eye to the facts you stated in your post. You can't change statistics and you can't re-write history. Conservatives deserve, and have every right, to their voice and opinions! I admire these kids! Every one else needs to suck it up and deal with the fact that the "other side" has a right to their opinions and viewpoints, too.

User1

Right on!!! Wasn't going to comment until I read your and CDReid's comments. College isn't a learning institution anymore....its getting to be adult daycare! Faculty needs to stop bowing down to "crybabies" and start preparing these people for life in the real world! Now if this was a liberal display and the conservatives complained you'd be hearing about "freedom of speech". There's multiple sides to every issue and all the people need to be aware of them.

ehpercy

Nice to hear from the typical right wing zealots spouting off this morning. There is little doubt that you couldn't handle an actual discussion of facts and solutions.

hayduke2

eh - spot on... I'm just surprised that they haven't somehow blamed Obama for this...

des21

Neither can you apparently as you simply denigrate them rather then discussing those "facts and solutions."

ehpercy

I got sick and tired of the false victimhood a long time ago.

des21

Are the false victims the aborted black fetuses or the transgender people Eric? You've got a lot of anger dude. Try exercise.

Nicki

[thumbup] ehphercy!

wind chaser

[thumbup][thumbup]

tonyc51

Obviously you cannot handle an open discussion, if people do not think exactly as you, then you call them names and belittle them. Actually what ends up happening is people see you as what you are very intolerant.

ehpercy

When you can apply that your side of the aisle then your point might have merit. Again I am tired of the false victimhood.

tonyc51

I am equally tired of all the victimhood from "progressives", It is an automatic fallback position whenever someone does not agree with their point of view. It is really rich for an acknowledged progressive to throw out that charge at the other side, preach inclusiveness (as long as everyone agrees with them), belittle, name call and run to their safe zones whenever confronted with truths.

ehpercy

There is disagreeing with POV and then there is disagreeing with facts. You can't seem to discriminate between the two.

Maximus300

So when you cannot dispute the facts presented you resort to denigration and name-calling. Typical "tolerant" liberal response. Useless.

ehpercy

There were a couple out of context statistics that had really nothing to do with the story and a lot of intollerant rhetorical B S. with the usual duck and weave. That is what was the typical right wing response.

des21

Your argument utterly lacks substance Eric. All you do is blame your opponents for bobbing and weaving and using "false facts" but you cite no examples. And the peanut gallery applauds.................SMH.

wind chaser

[thumbdown]

threecents

CD, I applaud your call to help black males. My thoughts on that is to (1) continue to improve inner city schools, including after school and job training programs - like we have in Frederick County, (2) end the war on drugs' focus on poor black males, and (3) make sure people charged with crimes have good legal representation.

DickD

But, CD, a pathological liar did win the presidential election.

tonyc51

It was guaranteed that would be true when a pathological liar headed both major parties.

User1

Only the popular vote!

public-redux

Donald, is that you?

geoffsail

Right on !! Truth is perceived as hatred if you don't agree with it.

TaraS

Please correct misspellings of Hood president''s last ne throughout this article.

jayel86

Its freedom of speech. Taking it down would violate the student's rights to that. There is nothing wrong with stating your opinion regardless of who it offends. Hopefully the staff at Hood are smart enough to realize that.

Whoknows

My fear is that Hood will cave to the Left as is typical these days. The voice of the Right is being suppressed and censored.

hayduke2

Whoknows - I call BS on your statement....

Whoknows

hayduke2, guess we'll see....

hayduke2

Whoknows - guess we'll see for sure but it seems to me that there are plenty of outlets for that right wing voice... Can you give a concrete example of one being silenced?

Whoknows

Sure can. Milo at Berkeley. And now Berkeley trying to cancel (i.e. silence) Ann Coulter.

hayduke2

Hmmm.... Really, those are the two you pick to represent your point.

teapartier

Here are a few you can add to the list

http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/2017/Event-at-Kenwood-Country-Club-with-Right-Wing-Speaker-Canceled-After-Protest-Threat/

http://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/claremont-college-students-silence-conservative-speaker.html

http://dailysignal.com/2016/02/26/campus-protesters-try-to-silence-conservative-speaker-demand-college-presidents-resignation/

http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/20/wellesley-students-push-hostility-to-silence-conse/

http://redalertpolitics.com/2016/12/22/hated-8-8-conservatives-liberals-tried-ban-campus-2016/

teapartier

Here is another one;

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/02/20/williams-college-cancels-a-speaker-invited-as-part-of-a-series-designed-to-bring-in-provocative-opinions/?utm_term=.ba9cc437e3af

teapartier

one more;

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/03/04/protesters-at-middlebury-college-shout-down-speaker-attack-him-and-a-professor/?utm_term=.16083bcc2f7a#comments

ehpercy

And teapartier, how much do you kvetch about the taxes you are paying? Or maybe we can talk about free-market forces making it having a speaker economically unviable? Oh, lest we forget, yelling "fire" in a crowded movie house is still has repercussions.

teapartier

Nice try spinning the facts. And yelling fire in a crowded movie house? You must think this is the 1920’s. Today’s Fire codes and exit construction are very specific to accommodate a “panic” situation in a crowded movie house or college campus auditoriums. In other words, all movie houses and college campus auditoriums are designed to accommodate the flow/exit of occupants in an emergency. When the patron selects his/her seat they are to find the closest exit. If a speaker yells fire, they are to proceed immediately towards the closest exit in an orderly fashion. Do not stop to yell, hurl insults or attack the speaker or attempt to extinguish the fire. Read OSHA 1910.36, NFPA 101-2009 or IFC 2009

firedupterp

Clearly stated "conservative views". Just because you do not agree with the "views" does not automatically mean it is hatred. It's a view that is covered by the 1st amendment just as those views of the people that oppose the conservative views. The oversaturation of perceived hatred and intolerance has risen to an all time high as result of people not agree with a counter belief

Crusty Frederick Man 64

Oh my, I hope there is a safe space on campus.

armillary

Hanan Zinab for the win.

LJF0929

For the most part, college-aged kids understand politics as their parents taught them. They haven't ventured into the "real world" yet and that lack of experiences hasn't allowed them to form their own, personalized, educated decisions.

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