A group of conservative students representing Young Americans for Freedom at State University of New York at Oswego faced vitriolic and threatening backlash after hosting a "Build The Wall" campus display.
The display caused a massive uproar as several students took to social media to send death threats. The threats included slurs, expletives, and messages of shooting, jumping and greasing them according to the College Fix.
Tyler Toomey, chairman of the YAF, and other members immediately notified campus police of the messages. Police have since launched an investigation and the university has released a statement to address the controversy.
"Yesterday, several violent threats were posted on social media against a properly recognized student organization and its members who were appropriately permitted to table in Marano Campus Center. University Police immediately opened an investigation and requested information from the social media host site. The site took down the posted threats and suspended the accounts. The on campus investigation continues. Violent threats will not be tolerated and are not protected by freedom of speech. We will pursue offenders as soon as we become aware of threats of violence or other criminal acts," wrote SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley.
"The principles of free speech and expression are fundamental to an open society. As an academic community, we know that the building blocks of learning are based on the quest for information and analysis in the context of open inquiry, skepticism and debate," she continued.
"While some ideas and opinions are vastly different from our own and may be anathema to what we think and believe, I strongly encourage all students, faculty and staff who wish to rebut expressions of others to use their words and voices to add their experiences and understandings to the public 'marketplace of ideas' that is the soul of SUNY Oswego. An ill-tempered and threatening response may very well bolster those ideas you wish to debunk and make you subject to judicial proceedings," she said.
The New York Republican State Committee went to Facebook to support the young conservatives, writing, "There should be zero tolerance for threats of violence. This is a sad commentary on what is happening on college campuses across the USA. While the Left is worried about needing safe spaces from rhetoric, these kids are getting actual death threats. Outrageous."
The display lasted roughly six hours and included phrases such as "Build The Wall," "Secure Our Border," and a spin on a popular Sublime song that read: "I don't practice Santeria, I ain't got no crystal ball, if I had 5 billion dollars I'd, I'd build a wall," according to the College Fix.
"We had several great discussions with passing by students and we were only treated to dirty looks in terms of negativity at the table," Toomey said. "After the event, social media blew up into a storm of bullying harassment and then turned to violent threats of shooting, jumping, and 'greasing' our members. To make matters worse, soon after, these offenders targeted our direct messages with their threats of violence."