Controversy Over Anti-Illegal Immigration Flier Divides BSU Campus
March 23, 2007 08:28 AM
Boise, Idaho– A controversy over an anti-immigration flier has divided the Boise State University campus.
The poster describing people crawling through a chain link fence has offended many.
It promotes an anti-illegal immigration speech by former Canyon County Commissioner and fellow Republican Robert Vasquez, by advertising activities like a food stamp drawing using false identification documents as raffle tickets.
“We believe it was an effective way of advertising the event that it is humorous and at the same time its true,” said Jonathan Sawmiller, the president of the BSU Republicans.
“In no way did it have anything to do with race or bring hurt to anyone,” said Trevor Grigg, a member of the BSU Republicans.
The posters were approved by the Assistant Director of Student Activities, Michael Esposito, before students were allowed to hang them.
However, that hasn't stopped a firestorm of criticism and outrage, culminating in a rally and silent protest.
“It's offensive to me. It's hurtful I think it was an attack on an entire population of people who they don't understand,” said Kate Neal, a student.
“The message we want to give is that oppression or hate speech is not OK on our campus or in our community,” said Adriane Wright, with the Boise Catholic Diocese.
BSU President Bob Kustra has also gotten involved by sending out an e-mail to the student body denouncing the flier.
College Republicans feel they're being threatened with discipline because of their message, and they worry the man who approved their poster may have been fired.
“University officials who don't wish to be named, for obvious liability issues, say Esposito has been terminated and his contract will not be renewed at BSU,” said Jonathan Sawmiller.
“They are censoring our views, our point of view, and that's what's wrong,” said Grigg.
Although college leadership is upset about the hurt the posters have caused, BSU spokesman Frank Zang says so far no actions have been taken against anyone, including Esposito.
“There has been no change in his job status. He has taken some time off to address an urgent personal family matter,” said Zang.
Thurday's event, including the speech by Vasquez, went on as scheduled.
According to BSU's spokesperson, the College Republicans may be subject to the student judicial disciplinary process for their actions.