UW-La Crosse students speak out after anti-Semitic sidewalk chalkings

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse are speaking out against what they call hateful comments. 

On a college campus, you’ll find people from all across the nation. 

“I think anytime you get a hodgepodge of people from different backgrounds there’s going to be differing opinions,” said UWL senior, Jacob. 

Differing opinions are welcome, but some students say there’s a line. 

“I don’t think it represents us as a campus, as a whole, and just makes us look bad,” said UWL College Democrats second vice chair, Helena Alisch. 

Earlier this week, the College Democrats tweeted four pictures of statements written in chalk by the College Republicans. The messages make references to anti-Semitism, vaccines, gender and sexuality, and gun violence. 

“We just want to make sure that students know there are people on campus who do disagree with that message,” said UWL College Democrats secretary, Jake Williams. 

Chair of the UWL College Republicans Megan Pauley resigned shortly after and condemned the statements, she was “disgusted and appalled to see the actions some of our members took and then posted to social media.” The statement was posted on the College Republicans twitter page by Pauley and was later deleted by the College Republicans.

College Democrats said they supported Pauley’s decision.

“She should definitely be applauded for her action. It takes a lot of strength to admit the wrongdoings of your organization, but it takes an even more account to step and down and take steps to right the wrongs,” said Williams.

Political science professor and first amendment expert Howard Schewber says the College Republicans are protected under free speech. 

“They’re absolutely within their first amendment rights to make those statements,” said Schewber. 

Schweber says that doesn’t mean they are protected from criticism. 

“There’s no first amendment right to have your views welcome. When someone says your views are odious, that person is exercising their free speech rights just as you were exercising your free speech rights when you expressed those views,” said Schewber. 

Students at UWL say they want everyone to feel safe on campus. 

“You’ve got to be respectful to everyone. I can’t just go one somebody’s driveway and write whatever message I want in chalk,” said Jacob. 

Schweber agrees. 

“It is absolutely the university’s responsibility to try and make sure that students feel safe, students feel fully part of the community, and to express the institution’s revulsion,” said Schewber. 

UWL Chancellor Joe Gow sent a message to the UWL community stating the university supports free speech and students right to speak out if they choose to so do. College Democrats criticized the message. 

“Joe Gow did send out a message and it was pretty unclear,” said Alisch.

Jacob says an apology from the College Republicans is not the entire solution.

“Yep, I did it. It’s all good now. I can say whatever I want and just apologize after,” said Jacob. 

Meanwhile the College Democrats say they want students to be united against hate. 

News 8 Now reached out to the UWL College Republicans for a comment and are still waiting on a response. Advisor for the College Republicans Anthony Chergosky has spoken out against the messages on Twitter. Chergosky says he will continue as the advisor only if the College Republicans apologize.