A day after the chair of UW-La Crosse College Republicans resigned over racist, anti-Semitic messages written in chalk on campus and shared — then deleted — on social media, both the chancellor and the UW-L Democratic president have come out with statements.
Grace Florence, the UW-L College Democratic president sent WIZM a statement around noon Thursday, while UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow’s statement showed up on social media around 4:30 p.m.
Florence noted free speech, no matter the context, should be protected by the university. She also praised GOP chair Megan Pauley for coming out strong against the actions of others within UW-L College Republicans.
Gow’s statement attests that the university community has a right to speak its mind but it needs to remain civil.
“It is UWL policy to provide all members of the university community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn,” the statement reads. “However, UWL’s leadership team and I are deeply disappointed to see students abandoning civil discourse and engaging in speech that promotes hate, is threatening, or that alludes to violence.
“Rather, it is the viewpoints that are reflective of critical thinking and intellectual honesty that are most becoming of the university community, and we expect no less from every individual in our community.
“While we support and uphold our students’ right to free speech, we also acknowledge the right of every member of the campus community to speak out in opposition to ideas they find offensive or harmful. We may disagree with one another, but we do so without harassment, intimidation, disruption of learning or other university activities, and discrimination. This is part of the robust and vigorous public debate, which is central to the purpose of the university. Encountering new, different or opposing perspectives can be challenging and uncomfortable, but should always be respectful.”