By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
A newsletter posted on the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) campus started to make the rounds on social media Thursday. It states veterans should be banned from four-year universities. Several viewers asked 11 News to look into the origin of the newsletter.
The letter states military veterans should be banned from classes and compares the military culture to white supremacist groups.
The newsletter is titled “Social Justice Collective Weekly” and says it is the first issue. A spokesperson for UCCS said the newsletter has nothing to do with the school and does not represent the institution’s views. However, it was reportedly approved by the university and posted on a bulletin board. The school says anyone is allowed to post items on the board. UCCS Chancellor Dr. Venkat Reddy subsequently did come out with a strong statement opposing the ideas in the newsletter:
Beyond the fact that the authors’ position is illegal, it is also wrong.”
To read the full statement from the chancellor, click here.
The university explained while this group is not affiliated with the college, they say it is free speech and the group can post what they want.
The article says veterans should be banned from UCCS and other four-year colleges. It also generalizes veterans and says they are unsympathetic to the LGBTQ community. The article says all veterans have far right-wing ideologies.
“They [the authors of the letter] try and talk about inclusion as a principle,” said UCCS student Joe Hollmann. “Yet, they’re excluding one of the most important members of society, those that are guarding our freedom to even talk about this.”
“There’s a lot of hate in the world,” said fellow UCCS student Caleb Hensley. “You can’t fight hate with hate.”
All of the students 11 News interviewed on campus disagreed with the stance the letter takes. The newsletter was also in the library and other places, but students have been taking them down.
UCCS told 11 News the author is not a current student and couldn’t confirm if they were previously enrolled. We emailed the address on the newsletter, but haven’t heard back as of Friday morning. The author is listed in the article as Terry Steinawitz. UCCS said there is not a student by that name, and 11 News wasn’t able to find any records of anyone who goes by that name in Colorado. According to email responses to 11 News viewers by the editors of the letter, they say they are using fake names to protect themselves.
The newsletter reads as follows:
“A four-year, traditional university is supposed to be a place of learning, of understanding, of safety and security. However, there is an element among us who may be frustrating those goals: Veterans.
UCCS is known for its number of veterans who are full and part-time students. But these veterans of much of the school prides themselves on may be hurting the university.
First off, many veterans openly mock the ideas of diversity and safe spaces for vulnerable members of society. This is directly in contradiction to the mission of UCCS. Many veterans utter the mantra that they, “do not see color”. But the problem lies in their socialization into the military culture that is that of a white supremacist organization. They have been permanently tainted, and are no long fit for a four-year university.
Second, many students are frightened by the presence of veterans in their classrooms. Veterans usually have an overwhelming presence in the classroom, which can distract other students. This is usually true for vulnerable individual such as LGBTQQI2SAA, who have been known to be the butt of insensitive jokes made by veterans.
Finally, veterans usually are associated with extremists right-wing groups such as the tea party and the NRA. In order to provide a safe place for all students, extremist right-wing groups must be suppressed on campus. This would include their followers: veterans.
That is not to say that veterans should not be allowed an education. Veterans should be allowed to attend trade schools, or maybe even community college. But, in order to protect our academic institutions we must ban veterans from four-year universities.”
On Friday, the chancellor issued a statement.
It reads in part:
“This flyer stands at the intersection of two core values for UCCS and higher education.
On the one hand, we recognize the right of people to express their viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are offensive to many in our community. The University of Colorado system adheres to the freedoms embodied in the United States Constitution, which include the freedom of speech contained in the First Amendment.
In doing so, we draw guidance from the words of the United States Supreme Court, which recently reaffirmed that speech touching on social and political matters is within the bounds of constitutional protection. When speech is a matter of public concern, even though it is racist or sexist, it “cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt” and we “must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate ‘breathing space’ to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.” I reject the notion that we should censor those who denigrate others, as censorship would have silenced many voices over the decades who needed to be heard.
On the other hand, respect for the right of someone to speak should never be taken as endorsing the viewpoints that someone has expressed. The viewpoints that the authors express are against the law. UCCS does not discriminate against veterans. But even more fundamentally, UCCS does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, creed, veteran status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or political philosophy. People earn the right to study at UCCS by virtue of hard work and individual effort, and we do not bar the door.