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The Wesleyan Argus, Wesleyan University

October 2015
Wesleyan University (Private college or university)
Middletown, CT, USA

Identity of Speakers

  • Bryan Stascavage
    Student
    Other

    Bryan Stascavage was a Iraq War veteran and student at Wesleyan University who wrote a controversial article in the Argus.

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Rally or protest
    Other
  • Incident Responses:
    Other
  • Incident Status:
    No litigation
  • Incident Protested
  • Did not involve Speech Codes

Summary

Bryan Stascavage—a 30-year-old Iraq veteran and Wesleyan student—wrote an opinion column for the Wesleyan Argus, a student newspaper, criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement. The column took issue with the movement’s tactics and messaging, not its mission or motivations. Regardless, within 24 hours of publication students were vandalizing copies of the newspaper around campus. Multiple students directed verbal abuse at Stascavage over the following days with one claiming that Stascavage was oppressing her. In addition, the Argus itself was caught up in the controversy. Students branded the paper as racist and claimed that the editors were abusing their racial privilege. Feeling the pressure, the Argus issued an apology for publishing Stascavage’s article. Despite this apology, offended students issued a petition demanding that the student government immediately defund the paper unless a series of social justice and diversity-based demands were met. Two members of the student government—including the President—signed the petition, signaling that they were open to defunding the paper if the protestors’ demands weren’t met. At this point, word of the protestors’ actions had reached major media outlets, most of which sharply criticized the protestors. Facing this growing pushback, the student government leaders dropped the defunding proposal. In its place, they created a plan to redirect $17,000 of the Argus’ $30,000 print budget to stipends that would encourage students of color with financial need to submit articles to the Argus. Eventually, this proposal was dropped as well. Over the next month, the Argus editors reached out to critics, increased their recruiting efforts towards minority students, and expanded the Argus’ coverage of minority events. The Argus still receives funding from the school and now includes an entire section dedicated to minority issues.