SVSU students protest university’s response after man appears on campus spewing hate speech

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 6:10 PM EDT
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SAGINAW COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - An unwelcome visitor. Exactly one week ago, a tense scene unfolded on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University.

Video shared with us shows a swarm of students surrounding a man they say was spewing hate speech. Many students now are unhappy with the school’s response to it all.

“It was really a difficult situation to be in. Lots of students were feeling uncomfortable and upset,” said SVSU student Abby Smith.

Students say he had an agenda -- one with some rather disturbing actions and unappreciated rhetoric.

“He at one point threatened to spit on some of our students, he was not wearing a mask and he had a sign that said ask me why you deserve hell on one side and then on the other side all lives matter,” said student Indigo Dudley.

Those words and actions were certainly enough to cause some students' blood to boil.

Even more so, they say the university did nothing to stop the man. It’s why dozens of students were out marching Thursday.

“This is about wanting an explanation. A real explanation for why administration didn’t take action as soon as they knew this person was on campus,” Smith said.

SVSU issued a response to last week’s incident.

“We are learning how to navigate this during a pandemic, and so there are lessons we’ll be taking from last week that we believe will allow us to be better in the future,” said university spokesman J.J. Boehm.

Like more closely examining the school’s harassment policy, prohibiting people on campus who violate COVID-19 policies, and how to appropriately respond to someone causing a disturbance.

“As a general rule, the best way to combat speech with which you disagree is with more and better speech of your own,” Boehm said.

And the students did just that, eventually getting the man to leave campus.

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