Emerson College in Boston has suspended its campus chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA) — a conservative student group — for manufacturing stickers that target the Chinese Communist Party, believing the act to be fueled by hate against Asians.
The sticker is designed after the popular video game “Among Us,” showing a player holding a hammer and sickle symbol including the caption “China Kinda Sus,” an abbreviation for “suspicious.”
TPUSA has been accused of xenophobia and racism following the incident. International Student Affairs sent out a statement to international students condemning the stickers. Emerson Interim President William Gilligan also emailed students promising an internal probe of the student group.
The TPUSA chapter clarified in an Instagram video that the stickers were meant to criticize the Chinese government, not its people. But the organization has been suspended for bias-related behavior and invasion of privacy policies. TPUSA has also been banned from activities such as campus space reservations and hosting events.
Limits of Free Speech
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Education (FIRE), a nonprofit organization advocating for free speech on campus, is calling on the college to drop the charges, since criticism of governments is considered free expression.
“If anything is ‘kinda sus,’ it’s Emerson’s overblown response to the stickers,” said FIRE attorney Adam Steinbaugh in a letter addressed to the college. “This investigation will cause students and faculty to suspect that their rights mean nothing to the college. Emerson must make this right by immediately dropping the investigation and affirming that criticism of a foreign government is not discriminatory harassment.”
But according to Gilligan, being able to freely express ideas should not impinge on other community members’ sense of belonging on campus.
“At this time in particular, when there has been a rise in anti-Asian sentiment, it is important to denounce all instances of anti-Asian bigotry and hate, and affirm our support and solidarity with the Asian and Asian-American community on campuses and around the world,” Gilligan said