Des Moines, Iowa – A recent memo from Drake University’s president sparked a free-speech debate on campus and prompted calls of defamation from a national immigration organization.
Students representing Citizens for Tight Borders (CTB), a campus group started with the help of the Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program, have been targeted in recent weeks by school administrators and students.
“We have had our group status temporarily revoked by the university and our personal beliefs belittled by the administration,” said Danielle Sturgis, co-founder of CTB. “It seems open debate and the free exchange of ideas are not valued at Drake anymore.”
CTB promotes legal immigration and national security through stronger borders. The latest challenge came in an official memo from Drake University President David Maxwell. Members of La Fuerza Latina, a campus group which promotes and explores Latino culture, and international students received the memo in which Maxwell denounced the views of Sturgis, fellow co-founder Frank Beard, and other members of CTB.
“I want to assure you, as the president of the University, that CTB in no way represents the University or our values as a community (I seriously doubt that they represent the views of very many on campus), and to assure you, even more importantly, that we value and cherish your presence here as members of the Drake University family,” Maxwell said in his memo.
The memo came after Sturgis and Beard posted flyers addressing wage, health care, and open border issues related to illegal immigration.
“Drake’s own Statement of Principles states, ‘Ideas will not be suppressed because they are presently viewed as unpopular or inappropriate by current authorities, nor will expression of those ideas be infringed because it may be perceived as harmful to a particular group or organization,’” said Steve Stockman, director of the Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program.
“Unfortunately, the reality of Drake’s intellectual intolerance against conservative students occurs on campuses across the nation,” Stockman said.
CTB was founded in January of 2006. The temporary revocation of CTB’s group status and a series of emails sent by the College Democrats in late March prompted the first official group meeting, which nearly 45 students attended. Maxwell’s memo was released later that same week.
Maxwell also claimed CTB and Americans for Legal Immigration (ALI), a national organization unaffiliated with CTB, targeted “specific ethnicities and nationalities.” William Gheen, president of ALI, requested Maxwell retract the statement.
“In your effort to pacify your student groups that take a political position that is contrary to the political position of border security and immigration law enforcement, you have defamed and libeled our organization,” said Gheen, in a written statement to Maxwell. “As I am hopeful that your oversight was a simple mistake, a simple retraction will suffice at this point.”
Maxwell has no plans to retract his statements, according to an article in the school paper, the Times-Delphic.
The CTB will post new flyers around campus this week.
The Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program helps conservative students start newspapers and organizations on college campuses.
For more information on the Citizens for Tight Borders, visit http://www.citizensfortightborders.com/index.html.
More information on CLP can be found at http://www.campusleadership.org/.
Reprinted with permission.