Over 200 radical students at Binghamton University surrounded four College Republican Club members on Thursday, November 14, who were promoting a lecture by renown economist Dr. Arthur Laffer and began “harassing, cursing, yelling and physically destroying tables and displays,” according to a letter of complaint sent to the university president, Harvey G. Stenger, by NYS Assemblymember, Douglas M. Smith.
According to Smith, “When State University police arrived to intervene, an angry mob of students began chanting, ‘No justice. No peace. No racist police.” They then proceeded to get into the police officers face while screaming about how they believe it is within their first amendment rights to be violent, disruptive, and destructive of the property of others.” The incident was captured on video.
On Friday, Binghamton University President Harvey G. Stenger issued a statement on the incident, which appeared to downplay the incident. According to Stenger:
“There was a contentious gathering on campus Thursday afternoon that required the intervention of University Police. Police were dispatched to the area because there were reports that conversations were getting loud, aggressive and possibly volatile. Police response was appropriate and important to make sure that every student involved in this matter was safe and remained safe. The incident ended and the crowd was able to be dispersed without anyone getting injured.
This incident from all perspectives was unfortunate. As a University, we encourage everyone to consider the perspectives of others — and the damaging impact words and images can have — even if they are protected as free speech under the First Amendment. As an institution of higher education, freedom of speech is fundamental to our core mission; academic inquiry and the exchange of ideas rest on the principle that all have a right to express their beliefs. We strongly condemn any acts that impede the expression of one’s beliefs but also encourage everyone on this campus to enter into meaningful interactions with respectful dialogue and actions.”
Assemblymember Smith responded to Stenger’s statement on his facebook page saying,
“Following my letter yesterday, the President’s office of SUNY Binghamton University called me. I am very disappointed that they seem to excuse their students bad behavior and blame the Binghamton College Republicans for “triggering” their students with a 2nd Amendment poster. If the University fails to identify and take proper disciplinary action against these students who had a temper tantrum and physically shut down their peers’ ability to peacefully exercise their 1st Amendment Rights, they will be condoning violence against their own students. I am deeply disappointed. We should be teaching our students how to engage in thoughtful discussion about ideas and protect diversity of thought – especially on our State University Campuses. There is no excuse for this.”
In 2011, FIRE, an organization that fights for free speech rights for everyone on college campuses, declared the University of Binghamton as one of their 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech. In March 2018, FIRE gave the University of Binghamton their Speech Code of the Month designation, for its support of the “heckler’s veto,” which was used this week to shut down speech at the university.
You can help support the albaNY apple by becoming a subscriber to our exclusive content at Patreon.