College Republicans Face Sanctions
February 5, 2007 11:06 AM
SF State College Republicans face allegations of attempting to incite violence and of actions of incivility following an investigation conducted by the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development, or OSPLD. The matter was passed to the Student Organization Hearing Panel, SOHP, to determine if the College Republicans will be reprimanded and the magnitude of the possible repercussions.
The SOHP, a functionary of the university that can only be enacted upon the conclusion of an OSPLD investigation, can ratify one of five sanctions on an affected organization.
The sanctions range in severity from a forced apology to full removal of the club. It is comprises a chair, two Associated Students Inc., or ASI, representatives, and two Academic Senate representatives. The panel met once, on Jan. 24, and has yet to schedule the next meeting.
Joicy Serrano, 20, an ASI member and representative on the SOHP, said the proceedings are just beginning.
“The first meeting was to get people familiar with the panel and how it works,” said Serrano, a RAZA major. “The next meeting we will decide who can be there and who can’t.”
OSPLD Director Joey Greenwell declined to comment on SOHP proceedings.
The OSPLD investigation stemmed from student complaints that prompted a resolution passed by ASI after the College Republicans stepped on the flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, resulting in heated discussion among members of the College Republicans and those at the event.
The Oct. 17 incident sparked emotions in Muslim students and others who argued that it was disrespectful and inappropriate to step on flags that contain the Arabic symbol for “Allah.”
The College Republicans argued that they were protesting the actions of terrorist organizations, not the sanctity of religion, and agreed to let some of the Muslim students alter the flags.
ASI cited a campus rule that stressed “equity and social justice within a respectful and safe environment” and indicated that ASI felt “they should be held accountable by the University for their actions” in the Nov. 15 resolution.
ASI and General Union of Palestinian Students, GUPS, member Brian Gallagher, 24, said ASI was fair in its evaluation.
“As an ASI member, I can tell you that there were no threats,” said Gallagher, a political science and history major.
Dalton Blanco, 19, said he was offended by the College Republicans’ display, even though the flags were altered.
“I guess they have right to protest,” said Blanco, a sophomore and music major. “But that shit means something to people, and stomping on it is disrespectful.”
The issue still conjures up great emotion among the student body at SF State, particularly the organizations involved. Leigh Wolf, the president of the College Republicans, demonstrated his opinion when he stepped on an Al Qaeda flag during a rally in support of Corporate America Appreciation Day on Jan. 31.
“After yesterday they can’t possibly sanction us for anything,” said Wolf, 20, a BECA major. “No one will condemn us for protesting Al Qaeda, but the Al Qaeda flag contains the same symbolic misrepresentation of Islam.”
Annette Heully, 21, said a group’s right to protest is covered by the First Amendment, no matter the controversy of the group or its methods.
“It’s a First Amendment issue,” Heully, a junior art major, said. “I mean, chick flicks are offensive, but people are still allowed to make those.”
Wolf said while the OSPLD just did its job, he was disappointed with ASI’s reaction. He is, however, confident that the College Republicans will not be punished.
“ASI’s handling of the situation has been a black eye to the school,” he said, adding that he has “full confidence in the Constitution, the First Amendment, and that the College Republicans will not be sanctioned.”
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