Members of the Hood College Republicans spent Sunday night fielding questions from fellow students who were frustrated — and in many cases, angered — by a recent display by the group in the Whitaker Campus Center.

The club sparked controversy on Tuesday by decorating a board in the campus center with posters and pictures from the modern conservative movement, many of which included views that students viewed as hostile to minorities.

One quote, from conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, read, “Transgender people are unfortunately suffering from a significant mental illness that is deeply harmful ... Biology is biology; men can’t magically become women, and women can’t magically become men.”

The board also contained many messages about abortion, including one poster that called it “the largest genocide in the human history.” Another read “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”

“When you’re saying that transgender people are mentally ill, you’re threatening their livelihood,” said Gabrielle Cavalier, a senior at Hood and the vice president of the Hood College Democrats. “When you say that abortion is genocide, you’re calling any woman who gets an abortion a murderer. If you want a discussion, why not talk about things like the transgender bathroom bill or Neil Gorsuch, who was just elected to the Supreme Court? That’s what’s being voted on.”

Cavalier’s key criticism — that the board focused on subjects intended to outrage, rather than real policy questions — was echoed by many students at a Sunday night meeting for the Hood College Republicans, which they advertised as a way to discuss the display.

But the predominant question for many students was why the club would set up the board at all, especially given that many group members said the posters on the board did not necessarily represent their own views.

“The main point of the board isn’t necessarily to espouse beliefs that we as a club believe,” said Brice McAndrew, the vice president of the Hood College Republicans. “This is what modern-day conservatives are listening to. People ask, ‘How could Donald Trump get elected?’ The board upstairs is why.”

Other students, however, questioned whether the way to promote civil discourse was by displaying inflammatory statements. Jeremiah Ratliff, a senior at Hood, told the club that the appearance of the board just underlined the feeling among many students that Hood was a close-minded campus.

“What I meant is that the cultural atmosphere here at Hood is one of closed-mindedness toward groups that the board particularly offended,” Ratliff later explained. “I think people feel that there’s homophobia and under-representation on campus — especially for transgender people, and among the Black Student Union — and this did nothing for them. People don’t really talk about these issues in a respectful way.”

Ratliff, and many other students, took particular issue with the messages about transgender people and the racialized poster on abortion, which Ratliff called “an asinine statement.” But members of the College Republicans also defended the board as free speech and an important way to share conservative views, which many said were also underrepresented on campus.

“Just because you find it hateful doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a discussion,” said Brendan Mahoney, the treasurer of the club. “If this is what it took to get everyone up and talking, then I’m glad we did it.”

“On a campus as liberal as Hood, it’s hard for us to express our views without being labeled a racist or a bigot,” added Angela Vines, a senior member of the club. “We knew people were going to be upset, but we didn’t expect people to lash out the way they lashed out ... It shows that conservative values aren’t nearly as accepted on campus as other values.”

The Sunday meeting was largely cordial, with a smattering of applause from the crowd at the end of every exchange between club members and other students. There was a heated moment toward the end of the forum when Jason Miller, the vice chairman of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee, took the microphone to defend the campus group.

“Words have consequences on both sides,” Miller said, before relating how his Jewish, conservative wife was offended by Facebook posts she saw during the election that compared Trump to Hitler and Republicans to Nazis.

“So, if any of you here sit in judgment of these people for posting something on a board, if you post things like that on Facebook, do you think it’s surprising that they don’t come to your events?” Miller asked.

A number of students responded negatively to the interjection.

“You’re not a professor here, dude,” one crowd member yelled out. Another responded, “This is supposed to be a Q&A.”

The Rev. Beth O’Malley, the dean of the chapel at Hood College, called the display one of the biggest controversies to occur in her nine years at Hood. Beyond the immediate discussion on campus, the board also launched a huge reaction on social media, said Ashley Gardner, an assistant swim coach at Hood and the sister of club President Christopher Gardner.

“The swimmers were away when the board went up, so we kind of lived it through social media,” said Gardner. “I think the reaction was mixed — there were a lot of people who personally attacked my brother, but also people from back home and at school who supported him.”

Students also responded to the board in more creative ways. Since the club put up the display, Christopher Gardner said that more than $200 had been donated to Planned Parenthood in his name. On Sunday night, a group of students gathered to work on a “positive campaign” that included a display board on how to be a good ally to people of color, Planned Parenthood and the LGBTQ community, including non-binary people.

The group also plans to table at the Whitaker Campus Center on Monday and to hang up Post-it notes around campus with messages of encouragement.

“I think there was a lot of frustration and helplessness because people were wondering how they were supposed to be civil when their way of life was attacked,” said Molly Masterson, a senior and representative of the Feminist Student Union. “So this is helping people learn, ‘Oh, how can I be more inclusive, how can I support people in the community who are different from me?’”.

The board — which club members labeled the “Conservative Cultural Center” — also forced a response from the Hood administration. In an email sent to students, faculty and staff on Thursday, Hood President Andrea Chapdelaine called for the college to review the display, “with appropriate sanctions to follow if such a determination be made.”

The school will also hold a forum on Tuesday where Chapdelaine and other senior administrators will speak, said Carin Robinson, a professor of political science and the adviser for both Hood College Republicans and Hood College Democrats.

Sanctions are still being discussed, but administrators can’t comment on what disciplinary measures might be taken, said Laurie Ward, the marketing director for Hood.

The display board — which is open to students on a rotating basis — will be left up until Tuesday, which is when it would be ordinarily taken down, Ward added.

Follow Kate Masters on Twitter: @kamamasters.

Kate Masters is the features and food reporter for The Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at kmasters@newspost.com.

(54) comments

phydeaux994

The "Conservatives" now own the Presidency and Congress yet they continue to obsess on the "libs". They are still bashing them ad nauseam. You WON guys, you have succeeded in quashing these "libs", why are you absorbed in kicking them while they're down. I think there is still an inferiority complex displayed by the Right, that some of them still bristle at being called racists and deplorable as though they still suspect that maybe they might fit the description.

riccicc

They won, huh!? You sure couldn't prove it by all the crying going on from this campus. Same ol same ol brainwashing by the liberal faculty that have tenure and don't have to worry whether any of this "liberal stuff" comes out in the future for the usa in the liberal's favor or not.

phydeaux994

See what I mean? Much of the crying on this forum comes from the Right, rehashing the same old "lib" stuff.

riccicc

really! how much more of this nonsense are we going to have? like some people have already told me, there are those who eat and breathe just waiting to be offended. people have also told me if they say something and offend someone, then they'll just have to be offended. people just need to adult up and carry on no matter what someone else thinks or says. They're not going to worry about whether this or that is pc or not pc.

missmcbrit

FNP deleted my previous comment, so I'll further censor it to please their virgin eyes. Hood College Republicans: You're not wrong, you're just being jerks. Reference Big Lebowski.

kstr92

Hood College: Creating future coffee-shop employees $100K at a time.

threecents

Kstr92,
Why did you write that?

threecents

Woops, that is NOT an issue for the govt to decide.

threecents

I don't think I would censor it, but that quote about transgender people does cross a line - of politicizing an issue that should be left to science, doctors, and the individuals directly affected. Frankly, it is not up to you, me, or Joe Schmoe how a person "should" feel about who they are. Live and let live. Seriously, how does it hurt you if a boy thinks of himself as a girl? That is an issue for the government to decide.

Whoknows

Pleasantly surprised that Hood allowed this display to stay for the allotted time slot. I applaud the Republican students for standing their ground, fielding questions, and invoking a discussion and/or debate. In the end, that's what democracy is "supposed" to be about. Sometimes the truth hurts. Facts and statistics don't lie. If you want to twist a statistic into saying that any woman who gets an abortion is labeled a murderer, guess WHO did that labeling! Why can't liberals focus on the facts before them? It's not always about a warm and fuzzy "feel good". Conservative Republicans are currently one of THEE most targeted groups for Liberal hate. In most cases, Republican Conservatives cannot have a civilized discussion with a democrat or a liberal without being labeled racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and all the other current buzz words out there. Sad times, very sad times.

hayduke2

Hmm - seems like you are arguing only one side of the coin... Most targeted group huh, did you not listen to anything the president said during his campaign?

Whoknows

Sure did. Also listened to everything the criminal on the other side said and chose my candidate.

hayduke2

Wow! You just proved my point in a grand way. Thank you...

richardlyons

"Facts and statistics don't lie." Really? They are used to lie and mislead every day. What planet are you living on?

ehpercy

[thumbup] Richard

gdunn

Those tolerant liberals again. Do as I say, not as I do.

b1sellers

How about this statement from the "conservative" - do you make flippant comments then? "Transgender people are unfortunately suffering from a significant mental illness that is deeply harmful " No need for an answer, we all know it already.

Whoknows

You can't change biology. Simple as that.

ehpercy

You are just looking at the plumbing, not the whole house. BTW there have been a few advances in medicine to change a lot of things.

threecents

Actually, you can.

threecents

Those tolerant liberals again, concerned about the common decency, the full truth, freedom, and inclusiveness. Why do they always feel the need to tell the truth as they see it? How inconvenient!

Dwasserba

Hey, Time Machine, drop me off on Tuesday

Quisling

Hating your fellow countrymen is woven into the fabric of America. Why would anyone expect anything different from these young people. All they have seen is hate towards Bush, then Obama and now Trump.

walter3rd

All of these articles about students wanting to "spark discussions" on college campuses. How about discussing your grades and your major, and how they are going to open up good job prospects for you? How about discussing how you will pay back your student debt? Aren't these more important "issues" on college campuses, especially in the 21st Century economy?

b1sellers

I have no problem with the "spark discussions" until it becomes a hateful or racist spark.

riccicc

Indeed, i wouldn't hire any of these students from Hood. I would get computers and robotics to do most of the work wherever possible. At least the machines won't use my place of employment as a stage for their ideology as a "social warrior."

corgikid

Stand your ground Republicans and don't back down.

ehpercy

"It’s hard for us to express our views without being labeled a racist or a bigot,” added Angela Vines, “We knew people were going to be upset, but we didn’t expect people to lash out the way they lashed out ... It shows that conservative values aren’t nearly as accepted on campus as other values.”

If hate and bigotry is what is now considered "conservative values" then maybe you should take a look at your values when you are being repeated called out on them.

corgikid

What was said here that is hateful?

Whoknows

ehpercy, how was anything in that display a symbol of hate and/or bigotry? Do you always turn a blind eye to facts simply because it doesn't feel good?

ehpercy

Ahh, yes. Now the cherry picking comes. First off she was not talking about the display she was talking about "conservative values". I do hand to Republicans to choose their words carefully so they don't appear to be hate filled or bigoted, even though that is usually the intent. Both of the lines quoted from the display are exactly that. Ultimately, the defense of those POVs leads to being called out as either hateful or a bigot, and rarely lead to a discussion of solutions. You don't like abortion, fine, so lets talk about spending the money eliminate it instead of criminalizing women. Yes, many transgender issues are defined as mental disorders but that is because of whole lot of factors which are only made worse when people label them as "sick" or "deviant" and shun or persecute them instead of providing care and support. I don't demand that you see things my way but trying to defend the indefensible is what ends the conversation and your "values" dismissed as an those of an ideologue. You turning a blind eye to the hate must make you feel just dandy.

riccicc

Why? Just because liberal "choose" to label conservative values as hatred and bigotry doesn't necessarily make them hateful and bigoted. Liberals don't have the monopoly on "choosing" how things should be labelled.

jwhamann

Is this a Sean Spicer press conference?

m21701m

How far Republicans think they have free speech!

Traderarb99

The key regressive left spin here is the belief that any opinion expressed which is different from their own is "inflammatory" and should therefore be banned. True old school liberals - who truly believe in free speech - would disagree with what's being said but not the fact that it's being said. Whats next? Banning conservative books? The regressive left are the true "fascists".

CRSmith88

I don't get it, how can we be fascists and socialists at the same time? Typically young conservatives from FDK/western MD have a pretty good track record of saying "inflammatory" things and pushing the envelope to the point of threshold. Exercising free-speech is a cultural imperative...it just gets worn out and suspicious when it's always being pushed to threshold with the same tounge-in-cheek subtext by the same groups.

armillary

CRSmith88 [thumbup][thumbup].

Whoknows

Trader, yes!

Fawned

Poor conservatives, you can't even say stupid ignorant things in public anymore without someone calling you out on it.

CDReid

"but we didn’t expect people to lash out the way they lashed out..." It seems you have a lot to learn about libs, young lady. It's what they do to anyone they don't agree with, in addition to calling them Fascists, Nazis, or racists. It's a fact of life, unfortunately.

hayduke2

And you sir are very naive if you think the lashing out is restricted to one ideological group. Perhaps it is you who have a lot to learn.

DickD

Some will never learn, Hay. Unfortunately, CD belongs to that group.

CDReid

Unfortunately, Dick, you're wrong. Again.

DickD

You might think I am wrong, CD, I don't. It you were tolerant, you would realize it too.[lol]

CDReid

Lashing out may or may not be restricted to one ideological group, but you and your group are the ones who label people that disagree with you as Fascists, Nazis, and racists. And, to call anyone, whether you agree with them or not, a Nazi is absolutely shameful.

hayduke2

Again CD - you think that everyone uses the terms you described. Never have I called anyone those UNLESS there is something in their speech or actions that confirms it. I guess the conservative use of liberal nut job, socialist, communist, snowflake, etc.. might just be as reprehensible... BTW, how would either of these be different than the topic of this letter that so many are reacting too?

riccicc

At least the conservatives never called anyone "deplorable" as their queen did in the last campaign.

hayduke2

Too funny ricci... In your 8:04 post you talk about not worrying about being pc and now you cry about being labeled deplorable... sounds a bit suspicious to me...[whistling]

Robbbobb4863

I agree with the republicans.....If you liberals can't handle the truth move back to DC or Baltimore :)[tongue]

CDReid

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Fawned

What if they're from Frederick? Imagine being such a simpleton that your only insult is a "move back to" joke [lol]

hayduke2

Robb - great way to perpetuate a stereotype of the " country folks"

DickD

If you think all liberals come from D.C. or Ball T More. let me disillusion you. Narrow view points seem to be a Republican strong point. [angry][tongue]

Nicki

[thumbup] Dick!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.