Emerson College Suspends Turning Point USA Chapter Over Stickers Critical Of China

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/10/07/emerson-college-suspends-turning-point-usa-chapter-over-stickers-critical-of-china/

Is China worthy of criticism?

Apparently not on Emerson College’s campus.

The liberal arts college in Boston suspended its Turning Point USA chapter on Friday, October 1 because its members were critical of the Chinese government. They handed out stickers on September 29 that got them in trouble, according to the civil liberties group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Turning Point USA is an organization that advocates for conservatism on college campuses throughout the United States; it was founded by Charlie Kirk.

The stickers showed a red astronaut from the online multiplayer game Among Us donning a hammer and sickle; it had the same color scheme as the Chinese flag. The background of the sticker appeared to be outer space. The message on the sticker? It said “CHINA KINDA SUS” and featured the Turning Point USA logo at the bottom.

Sus is a slang term that’s used in place of suspect and suspicious. It’s often used to describe something that’s deemed untrustworthy, as Urban Dictionary points out.

The left-leaning school deemed the sticker unacceptable.

Student groups complained about the stickers, including the Emerson Chinese Student Association. The college then launched an investigation into the matter.

Julie Rothhaar-Sanders, Emerson’s director of community standards, sent the Turning Point USA chapter a letter saying the school is investigating the organization for Bias-Related Behavior and Invasion of Privacy over the matter.

“Because of the nature of this incident, interim action has been put in place. Effective immediately your organization cannot host events on campus, this includes but is not limited to hosting programs, meetings and/or tabling,” Rothhaar-Sanders wrote. “This interim action means that you are not permitted to book or reserve space on campus. Failure to comply with this interim action could result in additional sanctions, up to and including dismissal from Emerson College. The action will be reviewed at the conclusion of the investigation.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an organization that supports free speech on college campuses, fired back on the Turning Point USA chapter’s behalf.

“If anything is ‘kinda sus,’ it’s Emerson’s overblown response to the stickers,” said Foundation for Individual Rights in Education attorney Adam Steinbaugh in a letter to Emerson College. “This investigation will cause students and faculty to suspect that their rights mean nothing to the college. Emerson must make this right by immediately dropping the investigation and affirming that criticism of a foreign government is not discriminatory harassment.”

The letter goes on to say that the students were exercising their right to free expression on campus and that the sticker is not racist or xenophobic.

“The stickers do not invoke or traffic in stereotypes associated with people of Chinese descent or origin,” Steinbaugh wrote, “Instead, the stickers are speech critical of China’s government. The stickers utilize the familiar emblem of the sole governing party of the country, superimposed over a video game character bearing the same red color of China’s flag. The sticker’s text (‘China kinda sus’) refers to the name of the country, not its people. Criticism of a foreign government is not inherently criticism of the people it purports to represent, even if people who hail from, descend from, or support that particular nation find that criticism personally offensive.”

“[E]ven assuming the stickers’ message was capable of being construed as speech based on race, ethnicity, or national origin, it does not rise to the level of peer-on-peer harassment as properly defined under the law,” he added.

Emerson College administrator Rothhaar-Sanders could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.


New to NewBostonPost?  Conservative media is hard to find in Massachusetts.  But you’ve found it.  Now dip your toe in the water for two bucks — $2 for two months.  And join the real revolution.