Police are investigating death threats made on social media against a group of Republican students who hosted a "Build the Wall" display on campus, WSYR-TV reported.
Students from the Young Americans for Freedom group at the State University of New York Oswego received multiple violent threats after setting up their table in the student center on campus Tuesday.
"Threats of violence against students should not be tolerated regardless of their political view. We are disgusted that our peers are threatening violence against members of our organization," YAF chairman Tyler Toomey told The College Fix.
The students had attached signs to the table that read, "Secure our border," "Build the Wall," and "I don't practice Santeria, I ain't got no crystal ball, if I had 5 billion dollars I'd, I'd build a wall."
Toomey told College Fix that the group had several "great discussions" with passing students and received little negative feedback during the event.
"After the event, social media blew up into a storm of bullying harassment and then turned to violent threats of shooting, jumping, and 'greasing' our members," he said. "To make matters worse, soon after, these offenders targeted our direct messages with their threats of violence."
The threats have since been deleted from social media and the accounts have been suspended.
What did the university president say?
University President Deborah Stanley issued a campuswide statement denouncing the behavior of those who made the threats, according to WSYR.
"Yesterday, several violent threats were posted on social media against a properly recognized student organization and its members who were appropriately permitted to table in Marano Campus Center. University Police immediately opened an investigation and requested information from the social media host site. The site took down the posted threats and suspended the accounts. The on campus investigation continues. Violent threats will not be tolerated and are not protected by freedom of speech. We will pursue offenders as soon as we become aware of threats of violence or other criminal acts.
"The principles of free speech and expression are fundamental to an open society. As an academic community, we know that the building blocks of learning are based on the quest for information and analysis in the context of open inquiry, skepticism and debate. While some ideas and opinions are vastly different from our own and may be anathema to what we think and believe, I strongly encourage all students, faculty and staff who wish to rebut expressions of others to use their words and voices to add their experiences and understandings to the public 'marketplace of ideas' that is the soul of SUNY Oswego. An ill-tempered and threatening response may very well bolster those ideas you wish to debunk and make you subject to judicial proceedings.
"Please know we will continue to encourage all members of our campus community to embrace diversity in all its forms--diversity of people, thought and expression. And, we will remain vigilant about safety, encouraging anyone who feels unsafe or threatened to let us know."
Toomey said the group has received support from other groups on campus.
"A lot of the campus leaders, especially in the Democrat Club and other Democrats on campus have reached out in support and they are staying with us against threats of violence," Toomey told WSYR. "They don't agree with us on policy but a lot of student leaders from those groups are supporting us."