College Democrats Condemn Themselves for Saying Students Should Not Shut Down Controversial Speakers

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The College Democrats at Columbia University are condemning themselves for an op-ed they published this year which criticized shutting down controversial speakers.

Columbia University’s College Democrats chapter is scrambling to condemn an op-ed the group published in October in the Columbia Daily Spectator in which they argued that controversial guests should be able to speak on campus uninterrupted.

“When we try to shout down white nationalist speakers, it provides credence to falsehoods such as ‘both sides are at fault’ or ‘students don’t believe in free speech.’ … If these speakers did not get so much attention when they came to college campuses, their despicable ideas would remain confined to the dustbin of history,” the group wrote on October 29.

Last week, the group submitted a Letter to the Editor “Statement of Redaction and Responsibility” which included a long-winded apology for the claims made in the October column.

“The fact that we did not apologize for our statements immediately after the release of the op-ed placed an unfair burden on the groups targeted by white supremacy to bring attention to our failures,” the letter reads.

“We take full responsibility for the ways in which we were complicit in supporting the violence caused by the visiting speakers, violence which is also perpetuated by American society,” it continues. “We recognize that these actions have made our community members more vulnerable while bolstering white supremacy. We must change without putting it on others to teach us and without looking for any kind of acknowledgement for doing so.”

The group goes on to suggest that their initial refusal to comply with those that wished to shut down controversial speakers was insufficiently progressive. “We have not shown up for our community in a way that reflects our values. Progressive values mean nothing without progressive actions,” they wrote.

“Moving forward, the CU Dems Executive Board commits to listening to and supporting identity-based groups on campus. We will show up and support their work by attending protests and events. We will listen to our student body and to members of the Columbia community while openly accepting any and all criticism,” the letter finishes.

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