Republican University Group Advertised With Flyer Joking About Feminism and Rape

A poster featuring a rape joke, linked to a college Republican group, has sparked fierce criticism by students at the University of Minnesota-Morris.

The flyer, which includes the time and location of the weekly meeting of the group, known as UMM College Republicans, was spotted Wednesday by a third-year student called Peter Truckenmiller. Truckenmiller shared an image of the signage on social media, City Pages reported.

The poster, under the caption "Never be afraid of being right," had pictures of three glasses each shown half-full, labeled "Optimist," "Pessimist" and "Feminist."

Under the first glass, a sentence reads "the glass is half full" while under the last glass, which is labeled feminist, a caption reads: "The glass is being raped."

Truckenmiller told City Pages it was not the first time a controversial poster tied to the group had been posted on campus. He shared an image of a flyer that referenced gender identity. "Never be afraid of being right even when it comes to the only two genders," its slogan had read.

The president of UMM College Republicans, Tayler Lehmann, told the Star-Tribune newspaper that the group was not involved with the recent flyer and did not know who was responsible.

In a statement Friday, Lehmann told the paper the UMM College Republicans would "continue to take a lead role in supporting the freedom of speech on campus and fight against gender hysteria and oversensitive triggers that shut down discussion and critical analysis of opposing viewpoints."

A Twitter search shows the posters have been seen on the Morris campus before. The university's student body president Sam Rosemark shared an image of two flyers in January.

Rosemark commented at the time: "There is a difference between using posters to engage others in meaningful, constructive conversations (like you claim) and attacking the identities of others to solely incite a reaction out of people (what you actually do). Why not be more kind?"

Last Thursday, the Minnesota College Republicans, the broader activist body, attempted to distance itself from the Morris posters, tweeting: "We are aware of the posters put up by UMMCRs. State CRs had no knowledge of or involvement with these posters. Further, we would like to note that this is not the type of discourse the College Republicans seek to promote on campus."

In recent days, administrators have issued statements in response to the material, albeit without referencing it directly. Their responses have been broadly criticized online.

University chancellor Michelle Behr wrote in a message sent to students on October 10 that a new group was currently "working on a campus climate evaluation and plan."

She said: "I have heard your concerns regarding language and images being used on our campus that inflame and divide. The University of Minnesota Morris does not condone messaging that is meant to be divisive. That messaging does not support the welcoming community we seek to be.

"While we embrace free expression, we also recognize that exercising this right comes with responsibility," Behr continued, adding: "Use of intentionally provocative speech impacts our campus and those targeted in the messaging, leading to individuals and student communities feeling invalidated, isolated, and unsafe. It isn't acceptable to treat one another that way."

University of Minnesota-Morris President Joan Gabel framed the ongoing issues as a balance of free speech, but did not confirm if the posters would be removed from the walls of the liberal arts college. "Protecting free speech has never been easy," Gabel wrote Friday.

She added: "I have deep empathy for those who are negatively impacted by the speech or actions of others. I want to assure you that I take issues of safety and belonging very seriously."

The reaction to the administrators' responses was mixed. "Fun words. do something about the hate speech now," wrote one Twitter user. Another said: "What an insane response to something that could be so easily addressed. Equating hate speech to free speech is such a lukewarm take."

Truckenmiller accused the faculty of failing to address the problem. "Silence makes you part of the problem," the student wrote. "It's an insult to students on campus to have our concerns ignored to protect a small group of harassers.

"These messages posted are meant to directly target students, to coerce them into acting out of impulse by directly targeting core parts of their identities. A student cannot learn if in the halls on the way to class a poster is attacking their gender or religion. Action needs to be taken, you need to protect your students and ensure that UMM is a place where a student can get a high quality education without being harassed in the corridors on the way to class. Silence is not an option."

Hey University of Minnesota, Morris why are you continuing to be silent in the face of posters specifically targeting...

Posted by Peter Truckenmiller on Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Republican University Group Advertised With Flyer Joking About Feminism and Rape | News