Pennsylvania college event for people ‘tired of cis white men’ cancelled following backlash

Conservative activists on campus objected to a painting and writing workshop organised by a final-year student

Io Dodds
San Francisco
Monday 14 November 2022 23:48 GMT
A flyer for an event at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania
A flyer for an event at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania (Young America’s Foundation)

A student art workshop advertised for those who feel "tired of white cis men" has been cancelled after a conservative backlash.

Flyers posted last week around Gettysburg College, a private university near the historic Civil War battledfield in southern Pennsylvania, had invited students to express their feelings about America's dominant identity group through painting and writing as part of one student's final year project.

“Tired of white cis men? Come paint and write about it,” the flyers said. The word "cis" is short for "cisgender", meaning people who are not transgender.

But college authorities intervened after complaints from the Young America's Foundation (YAF), which works to recruit and train young conservative activists at universities across the country.

A spokesperson for the college told The Independent that it had not endorsed the workshop and had asked the student to "restructure" it, but refused to say whether any college policies had been broken.

The spokesperson said: "The College became aware of a flyer posted by students on the afternoon of 10 November. The flyer was made for a student project and was never endorsed by the College or by Peace and Justice Studies.

"The faculty leaders of Peace and Justice Studies have asked the student to reflect on their objectives and restructure their project accordingly. The event is no longer taking place as scheduled or initially constructed and the flyers have been removed.

"In any community of our size, there will be a wide range of views. That creates a productive educational environment, but it also means that there will be occasions where views expressed are controversial or inconsistent with the values of the community."

The spokesperson declined to say who was responsible for cancelling the event, who took down the posters, or whether the college had taken any disciplinary action against the student.

They said only that the student had been "directed" to examine the college's freedom of expression policy and its rules for event flyers, which state that "it is not the role of the College to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, uncivil, or even deeply offensive".

Those rules also forbid students to engage in harassment, defined as creating a hostile environment for other people on campus, or "bias conduct", defined as targeting individuals or groups with "derogatory" statements or acts based on their identities.

The student who organised the event did not respond to a request for comment.

"Without a doubt, this event is designed to encourage bias and resentment against students of a particular race, gender, and sexuality at Gettysburg College," said the YAF on 10 November, adding that members of its Gettysburg chapter had submitted complaints through the college's bias reporting system.

One student in their final year told Fox News that they were "not surprised at all that a poster like this is spread through the college", citing an outdoor drag show held on campus last month.

"Normally, rhetoric on posters of this nature tends to be more inclusive and welcoming to the target student groups. But this rhetoric is simply divisive," said the student. "The faculty on campus always preaches unity among students on campus but never actually do anything to enact this unity.

"The school should not allow this type of rhetoric as it openly and boldly defies what the college says they want to achieve from their student body."

According to The New York Times, the YAF is funded partly by donations from wealthy conservatives including Richard and Helen DeVos, Tom Clancy, and the Koch brothers.

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