HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Tensions are flying high at Trinity College.
Many students are angry after the college allowed a student group to exist on campus, which students said supports white supremacy.
On Wednesday, student demonstrators had words with the president of the college.
Demonstration underway at Trinity College after the student club— Shawnte Passmore (@ShawntePassmore) May 1, 2019
Churchill Institute is recognized by the college, students say.
Protestors tell me they’re worried the group will promote intolerance.@WFSBnews pic.twitter.com/9Ix6Au1761
More than 200 students marched throughout Trinity College to say, “not on my campus.”
“The Churchill Club has been espousing some pretty troubling rhetoric in terms of race relations on campus. It’s really been inflaming race relations,” said Jack Stone, of the Student Government Association.
The student group Churchill Club falls under Churchill Institute.
On its website, its mission statement reads “The primary mission of the Churchill Institute will be to encourage, in every way possible, serious teaching, learning and scholarship about western civilization and to promote a vigorous discussion of its preservation and future trajectory.”
On Sunday, the Student Government Association, also known as SGA, rejected to recognize the club, only to find out the college already approved it earlier this semester.
For Sylvia Nuñez, she said she’s worried it endorses the group’s behavior after she says students broke into her dorm and ripped her Dominican Republic flag.
“It’s out of fear that if this group on campus gets recognized, all of this will be okay. All of this would be allowed to continue without any repercussions,” Nuñez said.
College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney said they’re only endorsing this.
“I would say the college is endorsing free speech,” Berger-Sweeney said.
In a heated exchange, students confronted the president on Wednesday.
For Berger-Sweeney, while SGA doesn’t recognize Churchill Club nor give funding, it’s still allowed to meet on campus.
Some students say this clash is the result of free speech and inclusion.
“In an inclusive academic institution, accept all views and right now we’re having an issue as a student body seeing each other’s point of view,” said student Alex Hreib.
Missing from the fiery demonstration on Wednesday was the club and Churchill Institute.
The Churchill Institute issued a statement saying "The Churchill Institute was founded in 2016 to bring diversity of ideas and perspectives to the Trinity College campus. The Institute believes the books and ideas of the Western Philosophical tradition—e.g. Plato’s Republic, Moses Maimonides’ A Guide for the Perplexed, the works of Al Farabi and Avicenna, and Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition —are no longer sufficiently studied at Trinity. Founded with the aim of reading these classical texts, the Institute aims to promote an appreciation for ideas integral to the Western intellectual tradition--the fundamental ideals of liberty, equality, the sanctity of the individual, and representative government among them.
As such and per Professor Smith’s article in the Trinity Tripod, the Institute and its members stand firmly against racism, discrimination, and white supremacy, as well as any and all other insidious ideologies. They are directly abhorrent to our organization and our intentions. Our goal is and has been to critically examine the books and ideas underpinning Western Philosophy, advocate for the best among them, and, in doing so, make Trinity College a better institution of higher education.
Still relatively nascent, the Institute has hosted three events since its founding. One was a colloquium consisting largely of academics from across the political spectrum. The second was a guest speaker and former politician. And the final was a representative of FIRE who discussed the state of free speech on college campuses.
With the desire to expedite event hosting processes and to further encourage intellectual dialogue and diversity of thought on campus, the students formed a Churchill Club and applied for recognition from the College and SGA.
As noted in President Berger-Sweeney’s email, the Churchill Club was approved by the college to be able to access rooms to hold events. The Institute and the club’s student members are grateful that the administration upheld the basic promises of free speech and association on Trinity’s campus and appreciate that difficult situation she faces.
Currently there are about 8-10 active members of that club, though many others on campus have offered their support. The Club’s roster is representative of the diversity of Trinity’s campus, comprised of men and women from a variety of backgrounds and bringing nuanced viewpoints to our discussions. The Churchill Institute is grateful for the passion and energy each of the students has contributed to launching the Club, particularly in the wake of the harassment they have faced on campus recently. As has always been the case, the Institute is eager to be part of a productive dialogue on campus. We remain hopeful to be seen as a convener of ideas, to connect people of differing opinions, and work united on ways to make the college better for everyone."