A College Republican protest of The Vagina Monologues is scrubbed-off by the university.
Earlier this week, the Network of College Conservatives (N.C.C.) reported that Boise State University downplayed a death threat made against an outspoken conservative student. Now, the N.C.C. has learned that Boise State University removed written messages by the College Republicans who were protesting the controversial feminist play.
According to a student report submitted to the N.C.C.:
"[The] College Republicans canvassed the BSU campus with chalked messages that included phrases to the effect that ‘Vagina Monologues = SMUT,’ ‘Vagina Monologues Degrades Women,’ ‘No Rape is ‘Good’ Rape,’ etc."
On many college campuses, students are often permitted to write messages on school property with chalk. While there is no specific policy that covers sidewalk chalking at Boise State University, students use it to promote events.
BSU College Republicans say they chalked messages to protest The Vagina Monologues, but members of the group soon realized their "chalkings" were being removed, in some cases, only minutes after they were written!
The Network of College Conservatives contacted Frank Zang, a spokesman for the university, to inquire why the club’s first amendment rights were being violated.
Zang confirmed that "employees of the university" put in a request, or work order, to the Facilities, Operations and Maintenance department to have the "chalkings" removed. Zang said there were two places where the sidewalks were washed — in front of the administration building and in front of the education building. He went on to say, "…but once this action was called to the attention of the university, then the facility department no longer responded to any requests to wash the sidewalks because the chalking had a right to exist."
Although Zang told the N.C.C. of only two places where messages were removed, the College Republicans had a different story. They claimed most of their "chalkings" were repeatedly washed-away.
Brandon Stoker, the club’s president, asserted that the university washed-away their messages on four separate days. In a list obtained by the N.C.C., the College Republicans cited 43 cases where their messages were removed from the Boise State campus.
"Other messages against capitalism, globalization, religion, conservatism, etc., have never been removed in such fashion. Interestingly, although there were a number of other messages scrawled across campus at the same time — some about a cheerleading competition, swing dance festival, and cultural event–only our message was disturbed and suppressed."
Upon further investigation, the Network of College Conservatives was able to confirm that, indeed, additional College Republican "chalkings" were removed from university sidewalks — specifically at the Student Union building. When the N.C.C. told Zang of its findings he said he would check into the incident.
Zang was asked if there were messages from other groups written on the sidewalks as the College Republicans claimed. He said he was "not in a position to know exactly what chalk messages were actually, physically there…."
"The bottom line is we respect the rights of people to use the sidewalk chalk for messages and we were mistaken to erase any of them. When it was called to the attention of the administration, it was reinforced that they should remain intact. And, that was the best we could do," said Zang.
"Chalking" is nothing new at Boise State University. Zang confirmed that the school has had “comparable situations in the past and messages have always remained on the sidewalks." But when the N.C.C. inquired as to why then "employees of the university" would make such a request to remove sidewalk messages, Zang said, "I can’t read their mind. This kind of scenario doesn’t happen on a regular basis, so you have to take that into consideration."
The N.C.C. asked the school spokesman if the employee who put in the removal request was in the wrong. Zang responded, "I would only say that we acknowledge that the protesters were within their right to chalk the sidewalks." The N.C.C. pressed on, "To clarify, whoever put this request in was wrong for doing so in that they were trying to limit free speech. Yes? No?” Zang replied, "Again, I can’t read the mind of what their reasoning was for putting in the request."
The Network of College Conservatives remains curious as to why anyone within the university would request that the "chalkings" be removed from the school’s sidewalks. The chalked messages were not obscene and the practice was common among the student body. Furthermore, the N.C.C. would like to find out who, if anyone, approved the work order for the facilities department to remove the messages.
"We responded as quickly as possible to the situation. It’s a big university and as soon as it was called to our attention…we righted the situation," says the school spokesman. But, Stoker contends it wasn’t until Thursday afternoon that the university had completely stopped erasing their "chalkings." Meanwhile, the play the College Republicans were trying to protest — The Vagina Monologues — was performed later that night with repeat performances throughout the weekend, according to the university’s events calendar.