UW-La Crosse College Republicans President Megan Pauley said Wednesday that she has resigned after members of the organization wrote anti-semitic and homophobic messages in chalk on campus sidewalks, and posted photos of the messages to the group’s social media accounts.
“I am resigning effective immediately because the Republican Party is a big tent, open to all who believe in liberty and freedom, and I will not stand by while others are ostracized. Antisemitism and hate speech have no place in the College Republicans, and I hope my gesture tonight will send a message to the remaining membership that actions like these are unacceptable,” she wrote.
— UW-La Crosse GOP (@UWLAXGOP) October 12, 2022
She said in an email and Twitter post, posted to the group’s Twitter account, that she had no knowledge of the offensive chalk writings.
The group had organized sidewalk chalking Tuesday, providing chalk and encouraging members to “write about issues that are important to you.”
Wednesday, the College Republicans’ Instagram account posted a photo of chalk on the sidewalk that read “Kanye is Right.” A photo of the same sidewalk posted later by the UW-La Crosse College Democrats also included the words “Defcon III.”
The slogan is an apparent reference to Kanye West’s recent social media posts promising to “go death con 3 On Jewish people.” His Twitter and Instagram accounts have been locked in response to a number of antisemitic posts.
The UWL College Republicans’ Instagram account has since been made private.
College Democrats posted photos of other chalk slogans with messages like “Where’s our cis/straight night?” and suggesting 17-year-old Grace Casten’s sudden death from heart arhythmia was actually caused by the COVID-19 vaccine.
The UWL College Republicans proudly showed off chalking they did on campus last night. But we have to ask WHY?
What purpose do these hateful chalkings serve but to offend others?
Students should not have to tolerate offensive racist and anti-semitic hate speech on campus! pic.twitter.com/ZdtePVATii
— UWL College Democrats (@uwldems) October 12, 2022
Political science professor Dr. Anthony Chergosky is faculty adviser to both College Republicans and College Democrats, and praised Pauley on Twitter.
“The social media post by the College Republicans was completely unacceptable. My continuation as their faculty advisor will be contingent on the remaining members of the group apologizing for the statement,” he wrote.
As the faculty advisor for the UW-La Crosse College Democrats and College Republicans, I have so much respect for Megan’s statement. The College Democrats were correct to object to the social media post, and Megan is correct to take this stand in favor of inclusion. (1/x) https://t.co/FnsAW3xMXG
— Anthony Chergosky (@achergosky) October 12, 2022
In an email to Madison365, UW-La Crosse College Democrats president Grace Florence said the chalkings are protected free speech but should be condemned.
“The College Republicans can make cruel, offensive comments. Hate speech IS protected by the First Amendment, and UW-La Crosse is a public institution with an obligation to protect free speech rights,” she wrote. “However, what these students wrote was wrong and morally reprehensible, and the school administration – particularly Chancellor Gow – should condem anti-semitism. These chalkings reflect racist, anti-semitic, and hateful views. Situations like this are particularly worrisome because they can be precursory to hate crimes and bias incidents. We need to make sure that our campus community is safe and inclusive for all…and the College GOP’s recent comments do not contribute positively to that environment. I applaud Megan Pauley on her decision to make a strong statement and resign from her position.”
Pauley did not respond to a request for additional for comment.
This story has been updated to include the comments of Grace Florence.