YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Leaders with the Student Government Association at Youngstown State University said they decided to act quickly this week when posters showed up on campus promoting “Straight Pride” week next month.
According to our sister station WKBN, the posters contained profanity, which our station has blurred for viewers. The posters promote the event as a way of not showing the differences between students.
Campus leaders said while they believe the posters were meant more as satire, especially since no names were associated with them, they determined the flyers went too far with their message.
“When you are talking about minority activism, it is very easy that if you are in the majority to say ‘well, this sort of activism is not necessary. This sort of zeal in your activism is over the top.’ For minorities who experience discrimination, that is not the case,” Student Government Vice President Jacob Schriner-Biggs said.
After consulting with the Vice President of Student Life, it was decided to take the posters down, not necessarily because of its topic but because of the coarse language.
“We have to be careful with the whole free speech issue. But then if you actually read through it, it seemed like it went way further than a free speech issue. There were swear words and took it a little further than the average free speech should go,” Student Government President Michael Slavens said.
Once students received permission to remove the flyers, they were all down within a matter of hours. If those behind the posters can be identified, any disciplinary action will ultimately be up to university administrators.
The Student Government Association Executive Committee released a statement on the fliers, which said in part:
It has been brought to the attention of several SGA Executive Board members that “Straight Pride” posters have been hung across campus, seemingly in response to LGBTQIA efforts to promote diversity and foster a culture of acceptance on campus. Though SGA respects the free speech of all YSU students, these postings were not authorized, contained vulgar language, and, unfortunately, miss the point of minority activism.
The story about the posters and the subsequent fallout has been picked up by the national news media. The Huffington Post on Thursday afternoon posted the story on its website, stating that the students at the university were “blindsided” after the homophobic messages appeared around campus.