Students at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, are furious after the school refused to stop an off-campus rally in support of President Donald Trump, police officers, and law enforcement officials.
What are the details?
According to a Thursday report from Campus Reform, students became enraged after finding out about the rally and attempted to pressure the school's administration to stop the offending event.
Students were made aware of the rally through a posting on the Instagram page "BIPOC at Mount Holyoke."
A portion of the post read, "I know that most students aren't on campus, but there's a 'Back the Blue' (pro-police) and pro-Trump standout at the village commons in South Hadley this weekend. It's right across the street from campus. I'm only reaching out because I hope student pressure on admin can create a response from the college."
According to the outlet, "multiple organizations" created a petition against the event in support of safety for "LGBTQ+ and POC members."
The petition received more than 1,600 signatures, Campus Reform reported.
A portion of the petition said, "This is outrageous and we demand a response from the administration of Mount Holyoke. By maintaining silence about the upcoming events, the school is encouraging a gathering of people who could threaten our community's safety."
"Although Mount Holyoke is a space that encourages the opinions of all students to be shared, they should not tolerate the sharing of harmful rhetoric," the petition continued. "The implication of the stance held by the 'Back the Blue' rally is in direct opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement and the safety of all POC groups and LGBTQ+ community."
"This," the petition added, "goes against the inclusive and progressive message of Mount Holyoke as an institution and a community."
The rally ended up taking place across the street from the school's main campus and was hosted by local correctional officers and Pioneer Valley Massachusetts for Trump 2020 on Sept. 7.
What did the school say?
The school, however, refused to cave to student activist pressure and, instead of stopping the rally, cited the First Amendment.
"The College cannot ... prevent an assembly from being held on town property in proximity to the campus," the school said in a Sept. 5 statement to its students.
Mount Holyoke College President Sonya Stephens' statement read, "Participants will gather on the public area around the gazebo, which is not owned by the College."
"The right to peaceful assembly, and indeed to free speech, are protected in the First Amendment, and together with the freedoms of association, petition and the press are what we understand more broadly as freedom of expression," Stephens continued. "To defend free speech is to defend the most fundamental and most important of human freedoms, even when, as the ACLU article makes explicit, some views expressed 'are antithetical to the very freedom the First Amendment stands for,' otherwise 'no one's liberty will be secure. In that sense, all First Amendment rights are 'indivisible.'"
Activist group Black at Mount Holyoke College issued a statement in response to Stephens' announcement, which said, “This response from the institution negates the Anti-Racism plan, which was released only days ago, because rather than taking the next step to ensure that the students who are staying on campus are safe, they simply say that nothing can be done about the rally."