Siena College Professor: ‘Evil’ Conservative Student Organizations Make Me ‘Miserable’

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Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr

Professor Jennifer McErlean of Siena College in Albany, New York, has come under fire after she called conservative student organizations “evil” in an email.

Professor Jennifer McErlean of Siena College has come under fire this week after she called conservative student organizations on campus “evil” in an email that was obtained by students.

According to a report from Campus Reform, McErlean’s email was primarily about student Antonio Bianchi, who leads a conservative student group on campus. In her email, McErlean says that the thought of working with the Bianchi was making her “miserable,” so much so that she decided to remove herself from Siena’s committee on civil discourse to avoid him.

I believe be greatly exaggerates the number of ‘conservative’ students who agree with his position (they are a small band) and his description of them feeling threatened borders on the ridiculous.

If someone chooses to write an insulting, false, provocative letter, like Nicole did, they really cannot complain when there are strong responses (which I’m still trying to get a copy of to send to you).

I withdrew from the committee that has been formed to figure out ways of productive civil discourse on such matters – it was making me miserable thinking of how to work with students like Antonio!

McErlean was referencing an upcoming event at Siena organized by Bianchi that will feature conservative commentators Roger Stone and James O’Keefe. She explained that by removing herself from the committee, she was freeing herself up to protest Bianchi’s event.

And this way I am free to protest at the conference, IF there is any protest. I’m still worried that so many groups are thinking about doing ‘something’ that nothing will result. Faculty will surely have forums that counter and are more inclusive on issues like free speech and gun rights the week before and the week after – but if no silent, sign-carrying wall of people is there to greet the conference goers I fear the message is that Siena is generally happy with the list of speakers and there will be no acknowledgment of how evil these organizations are!

In a Facebook post, Bianchi blasted McErlean for her comments. “Professor Jenn McErlean, a philosophy professor at Siena College, exemplified everything wrong with collegiate bias and discrimination against conservative students in an email directed at me this morning,” Bianchi wrote.

In a comment to Breitbart News, a Siena College spokesperson said that the institution is committed to upholding Professor McErlean’s freedom to discuss campus matters.

I can confirm that there was an email exchange earlier this week among Dr. McErlean, one of our students, and an alumnus on the topic of free speech and civil discourse, and that all three have every right to discuss and debate this matter peacefully.

On behalf of the College, I can state that we are committed to respecting academic freedom. It is no small challenge to respect both individual rights and the rights of the community, as well as the need to protect the common good. Among the goals of higher education is the open exchange of ideas and respect for opposing viewpoints. Using dialogue to come to a shared understanding helps inform the very foundation of our educational mission.

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