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NeW Hosts Discussion Featuring Hannah Scherlacher

On Monday November 13, the Network of Enlightened Women (NeW) hosted a discussion on free speech in the Fenway Room featuring Program Manager and Opinion Writer for Campus Reform, Hannah Scherlacher.

Before the event, club president, Mia Steupert ’19, discussed what NeW means to her and why she wanted to bring a chapter to Emmanuel, and Assistant Professor of Political Science, Dr. Adam Silver, discussed the topic of free speech on college campuses.

While a peaceful protest ensued during the presentation, Sherlacher was met with questions from students of all sides and presented her view and experiences as a conservative woman.

Photo by Merisa Boyd ’18.

The Discussion Before the Discussion

“NeW is a club that focuses on fostering intellectual diversity on college campuses. It focuses on bringing conservative viewpoints to campus, which I think lack and I think are suppressed, not in any particular way or fashion…I think it was time that we needed to bring another viewpoint to the college and give kids a venue that don’t have a venue in class, in clubs, anywhere on campus really,” Steupert stated. “It’s very hard to be the one that people look at and don’t really understand what you’re thinking. I think it’s a good way to show people what we’re really about and rather than assuming what we are, giving them an opportunity to see what we actually are about.”

Steupert stated that she brought NeW to Emmanuel because of a retreat she went to over the summer. She felt benefited from what she encountered and wanted to give that back to the conservative students she knows on campus. She was sure to note that the group is “not anti-feminist” and “all these things that people label us.” She stressed the importance of people finding out what NeW was all about as she feels it’s a good platform for conservative students.

The Emmanuel chapter has about 12 members so far, and Steupert was highly encouraging of students coming to Sherlacher’s discussion and see what NeW revolves around for themselves. She noted that the discussion would center around free speech on college campuses and the “unique role as conservative women” and how people from all sides can be included in the conversation.

She went on to address why she chose Scherlacher as the first speaker for NeW to host.

“I saw her on Fox way before I even knew about NeW and I was very impressed with her. She’s young and she’s a female and she’s conservative which is sometimes kind of hard to come by…I was very impressed with her grace and her class because that’s a big thing for me. I really like and value people who can portray a message in a conservative and a kind and classy way…I think that she will be a very good starting point for this conversation,” she said.

Made aware of some social media posts that did not agree with the idea of Scherlacher coming to campus, Steupert stated that she was not going to comment on the specific posts as she felt it was inappropriate for her and NeW to take a position on one side or another.

Many students attended a Through the Wire event on Native American Identity. Our coverage of this can be found here.

“People should come and hear her out…they need to judge after they come and listen to her. I don’t think they should be making misconceptions about someone that they don’t know because I know how it feels when people label me as something that I’m not,” Steupert stated. “…if you can’t listen to someone with a different opinion, what is the point of critical thinking? What is the point of higher education? I encourage people who don’t agree with her to come.”

Dr. Silver, also spoke of allowing diverse opinions and the concept of civic debate at EC.

“Campus should not be an intellectually safe space…It should be a space for political discourse,” he stated.

Silver went on to discuss what students should focus on when encountering someone with view points they don’t agree with even beyond Scherlacher and the topics she was set to bring forth. He noted that the EC community should aim to address feelings of exclusion on campus to welcome opposing opinions and allow for thoughtful conversation.

He then discussed the impact of engaging those that hold different views in conversation to get them to see another side of an argument, and potentially highlighting the misinformation they might be citing.

“My thoughts are that making it public and debating it and showing the illogic, the fallacy of someone’s argument is more effective than allowing them to stay in the shadows and allowing them to talk about what they’re really doing,” Silver said.

“Combatting the Campus Left”

Scherlacher started the presentation by discussing how she was placed on an “Anti-LGBT list” by the Southern Poverty Law Center after doing a radio interview with the Family Research Center. While the site does emphasize that they are listing the organizations that condemn the LGBT community and was highlighting those on their show on August 2, Scherlacher discussed how she felt her career could be harmed by being placed on such a list.

She also presented her argument on the SPLC going from fighting groups such as the KKK, to focusing their efforts on conservative, Christian groups.

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“You can see what started as a good thing, combatting actual hate, turned into an attack group against conservatives. So they exploit voters’ fears. They rake in millions of dollars by doing so…Now they’re disguised as a non-partisan Civil Rights Group,” she stated.

“The radio interview I did was about socialism and economy. I never once said anything about anything LGBT. I have nothing against, I have never done or said anything against LGBT, but I was guilty by association just because I did an interview with a group that holds traditional family values,” she stated.

She went on to relate the “bully tactics” of the SPLC to those that students might face on campus.

“Bullying on social media is something I know a lot of you may face on campus for those of you that may have opposing views or dissenting opinions,” she stated. “One thing we see too often on campus is leftist control,” Scherlacher stated as the following slide was shown.

Photo by Devin Nelson ’19.

This lead to the topic of “infantization of students.” This is the idea of treating college students as children in campus activities that Scherlacher described as “cry-ins and coloring.” She stated that this is doing a “disservice to students” because they won’t be allowed to color or pet a puppy if they are handed an assignment that stresses them out later in their careers. She feels that colleges are not preparing students for the real world because of campus avoidance of allowing students to “see and hear the truth.” She noted that students need to confront certain truths that challenge their beliefs and invoke their critical thinking skills.

After making the previous statement about 10 minutes into the discussion, an entire row and a half of students stood up and faced their back to Scherlacher as their form of protest for the event.

Photo by Devin Nelson ’19.

The presentation from here included some videos and examples of stories that Campus Reform and their writers cover on a daily basis, as well as tips for how conservative women can present themselves in an argument with those they might not agree with.

Scherlacher After the Discussion

Members of the audience were given about 20 minutes at the end of Scherlacher’s presentation to ask her questions. She first responded to a question about hateful terms used towards the LGBT community. She first stated her support for speaking out against any kind of hate speech and how communities should stand together in denouncing that kind of language.

“My point here is that hate speech is still protected because if someone finds that word offensive then there’s a whole plethora of words that could also be deemed offensive and then you have to ask…’who gets to control the terms that are deemed hateful and offensive?’ And then you get into this territory of everything becomes offensive because someone, somewhere is going to be offended by almost any word,” she stated. “We draw the line by allowing all speech and if someone is hateful enough in their heart and soul to say those words and to bully someone like that publicly then you let them be embarrassed and shamed by the rest of the student body, by the rest of their peers.”

She went on to highlight how Richard Spencer, who Scherlacher noted as a “disgusting man,” gained more fame and attention because of the protests to his speech at Florida State University. Scherlacher noted that only 4 students were actually at the event to hear Spencer speak, but the protests drew national attention to him and his movement.

Lindsay Kenney ’18 was part of the peaceful protest that occurred during the discussion and others that protested participated in the discussion as well.

“I want to thank you for coming and I want to thank NeW for inviting Hannah to speak here and I want to thank them for allowing us to have a venue to use free speech ourselves,” Kenney stated.

The two later discussed the FRC and their anti-LGBT stance. Scherlacher noted that she does not agree with where the FRC stands, but did say that she does not view the FRC as a hate group despite their listing on the SPLC website.

Her last question was about what the internal policing looks like within the conservative community as a student pointed out that hate can come from all sides of the political spectrum and quoted a conservative radio host’s hateful stance on those with autism.

“I think that’s where we have to take the responsibility to stay informed and really judge people by the content of their character and their speech. We as people need to be a lot more discerning when choosing what politicians and speakers to look up to and listen to on the daily because…on both sides if we’re really honest with ourselves we will be able to confront our own hypocrisy and our own bias and I genuinely do believe on both sides there is a lot of hostility and nasty comments and we’re just pitting everyone against each other,” Scherlacher stated noting that this is what she feels a lot of media focuses on. “It’s not true journalism anymore.”

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As she ended the presentation, Schrlacher noted her stance on how she would like to see this discussion move forward between all sides and positions of the political spectrum.

“It’s really important to reach out across the aisle and try to talk to one another and understand each other. I really think it’s important to call out the hypocrisy on both sides and not defend people. We need to defend principles and values instead of figures and politicians because all politicians are corrupt,” she stated.

Once the discussion was over, Scherlacher spoke of her impression of the Emmanuel community that she was able to see.

“I think it’s really great that this school is open to diversity of opinion and diversity of thought and intellectual diversity really. I’m very thankful that they had me and I hope this encourages the rest of the student body to speak up and challenge their biases and challenge their beliefs,” she concluded.

Merisa Boyd ’18 is the Editor-in-Chief and Devin Nelson ’19 is the Managing Editor Elect of The Hub. They can be contacted at boydm@emmanuel.edu and nelsond@emmanuel.edu or on Twitter @merisafaith and @nellydevin.

Posted by on November 14, 2017. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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