University Responds to Hate Group Demonstration on Mansfield Campus
A demonstration by an organization promoting Naziism took place Saturday, August 26, on the Commonwealth University-Mansfield campus. The group did not provide advance notice to university police, but senior university administrators and the University Police Department were prepared for the group’s arrival. The University Police acted immediately to guard the safety of all members of the university community.
The demonstration was closely monitored by university staff and enhanced law enforcement presence to ensure the safety and well-being of our campus community. After the demonstration the group departed without serious incident. An interaction did occur between a protester and student, though no disciplinary action or arrests occurred. The overall response to this event by the Commonwealth University community was responsible and appropriate.
The university leadership recognizes that the views expressed by this group are highly offensive, and not consistent with the values of Commonwealth University. But all public universities' premises are public property, and we do not have the authority to deny access to any individual or group.
Commonwealth University is committed to academic excellence, equal opportunity, and freedom from discrimination for all individuals. The expression of viewpoints by visitors to campus does not equate with endorsement of those views by the university, but the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits Commonwealth University, as a public institution, from banning speech based on its content or viewpoint, no matter how repugnant such speech may be.
On August 31, a group of students gathered for a rally in response, coming together to promote peace and constructive dialogue, and to remind us of the importance of continuously working to end hate. We are heartened by their care and spirit of support for all members of the university community. They reflect the values of Commonwealth University.
As we have seen many times in our society, directly engaging hate groups serves only to empower them. While we understand the urge of students to confront hate speech directly, we encourage them to express their opposition in peaceful and constructive ways that call attention to the values that guide them as productive members of society.
Commonwealth University strives to provide a safe and inclusive environment. That environment serves us best when members of our campus community can exchange differing viewpoints civilly and safely for all members of the community.