ND Representative Joshua Boschee comments on messages posted by North Dakota State University students
A North Dakota Young Republican (NDYR) group chat was leaked revealing racial, ethnic and homophobic slurs. The chat was revealed by Fargo Forum reporter Rob Port on Aug. 19. Since the release, organizations, including the North Dakota GOP (NDGOP) and NDSU, have released statements condemning the behavior.
The group contained over 100 members some of whom are well known names in North Dakota politics. According to the Bismarck Tribune, several Young Republican members are sitting lawmakers and legislative candidates.
Fargo Forum writer Rob Port received screenshots of the messages that were sent on Telegram. According to the Fargo Forum, Port the screenshots depicted several weeks’ worth of the group’s messages sent to the NDYR group.
The group mentioned State Representative Joshua Boschee, who is openly gay and works for LGBT advocacy in North Dakota. According to the Fargo Forum, a reply from a user named Matt Evans describes Boschee as a “degenerate clown.”
“I am hopeful that the leaders of this organization are reflecting and thinking about the goals of their organization and how they can do a better job of making sure they are more inclusive,” said Boschee.
More comments from the group were sent by President of the NDSU College Republicans Ben Schirrick, such as “I just walked through a fag festival.” He later stated that using the slur was “probably the least triggering thing” he’ll do this year.
NDSU President David Cook released a statement in response to the leaked group chat messages. He stated that “NDSU values a community that is inclusive and collegial and those comments are not reflective of our NDSU values.”
According to the Fargo Forum, Scherrick was unapologetic and stated “It was a private chat. Hate speech is free speech.”
“You can use the language that you want, that’s the beauty of living in America and North Dakota but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences,” said Boschee. “Our protections of free speech are limited to our interactions with the government.”
Boschee explained that harmful language is not helpful and it only shows the true colors of those involved. Both the state Republican Party and Democratic-NPL Party have condemned the messages from the group chat, according to the Bismarck Tribune.
NDSU has experienced other situations of hate speech on campus. In 2020, a Snapchat group revealed racist content. Students held a protest on campus urging NDSU administration to take action against those responsible for the messages. Students also held a protest to stop the hate against Asian Americans.
“I think we need to not only have individual reflection but also group conversations,” said Boschee.