NDSU Student Calls for Background Check of Guest Speakers

“(I)t got very scary and even more offensive,” North Dakota State student and president of the College Democrats organization William Fleck wrote in a letter to the editor published in the Forum this week.

Fleck was referring to what a speaker — chief executive officer of the Institute on the Constitution and ordained minister Jake MacAulay — that NDSU’s Lutheran Student Fellowship booked had to say about transgender people.

According to Fleck’s letter, he attended the event because a hometown friend committed suicide a week ago after being scrutinized, dehumanized and bullied for years and was curious about what a controversial speaker like MacAulay had to say.

Fleck’s friend was transgender.

MacAulay made claims in his speech that it should be illegal for LGBT people to live as themselves. MacAulay also defended slavery and tried discrediting people who stifle speech promoting sexism, homophobia and Islamophobia according to Fleck’s letter.

“This man was not a Christian, but an extremist,” Fleck wrote.

Until 2014, the founder of the Institute on the Constitution Michael Peroutka was a member of the League of the South whose movement is to, in their own words, “promote the survival, well being and independence of the Southern People.”

However, these “Southern People” do not include everyone living in the south. The organization defines southern people as, “Southerners of European descent who are committed to preserving the traditional culture of the South.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the League of the South as a hate group and defines the organization as “a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession.”

League of the South members actively participated in the Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville, as reported by VICE News, The New York Times and Miami New Times.

The letter called for NDSU, and anyone hiring a speaker, to take action and check the background of the speaker.

NDSU’s student government is taking action and plans on creating a task force that helps define the difference between free speech and hate speech so that things like this don’t happen again.

“We are doing as much research right now that is physically possible,” Mason Wenzel, student body president, said in an interview with The Spectrum. “We actually committed a majority of our executive cabinet meeting last night to actually discussing these issues.”

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