ASU Cancels Conservative Events After Faculty Oppose Them In Survey

ASU Cancels Conservative Events After Faculty Oppose Them In Survey

By Corinne Murdock |

UPDATE: Shortly after the publication of this story, AZ Free News received word that the events in question were restored. A follow-up email submitted late Monday afternoon explained that the events were restored because, “Under the leadership of President Michael Crow, Arizona State University is committed to intellectual diversity.” 

Human nature remains constant, as evidenced by the relatability of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” to Arizona State University’s (ASU) latest actions. As fond as Plato and other ancient philosophers were of challenging their own and others’ ideas and beliefs through the dialectic, so it appears ASU shares a similar fondness for avoiding such interactions. 

According to an email obtained by AZ Free News, ASU history department leadership forced the School of Philosophical and Religious Studies (SHPRS) to cancel two events funded by its Political History and Leadership (PHL) Program after asking history faculty in an unprecedented survey whether two guest speakers should be permitted to come. The two events featured speakers engaging in conservative rhetoric: Bret Weinstein, the controversial former Evergreen State College biology professor featured in a documentary by conservative radio talk show host and writer Dennis Prager on cancel culture, “No Safe Spaces,” and Katie Pavlich, a conservative commentator and University of Arizona (UArizona) alumna. 

“For the first time since the conception of SHPRS, the head of the history faculty sent out an online survey to the history faculty asking them to vote on whether or not to bring these PHL funded speakers to campus,” read the email from PHL Co-Director Donald Critchlow. 

Weinstein doesn’t consider himself a conservative; he has long considered himself a “deep progressive.” He was scheduled to speak in mid-October, while Pavlich was scheduled to speak sometime next spring. 

AZ Free News reported January 19 that ASU canceled another PHL event featuring Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and former Utah congressman and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz. As reported at the time, ASU offered three different reasons for canceling the event to different parties. Several of the featured speakers were told that the event had to be canceled due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. However, others were informed that the event was canceled due to controversy over Biggs and Chaffetz being guest speakers.

The final reason given to AZ Free News for the event cancellation came from ASU. University spokesman Jerry Gonzalez told AZ Free News that a faculty member broke ASU’s scheduling protocol.

“The event at the Desert Botanical Garden was canceled due to a breach of scheduling protocol by a faculty member in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies,” said Gonzalez. “The university welcomes the opportunity for this event to be rescheduled following the required protocols.”

About a week later on January 25, after the report by AZ Free News was shared on a national level, the email revealed that ASU’s history department implemented new, unspecified procedures for requesting guest speakers to come on campus. It was after PHL followed the new procedures that the head of the history faculty, Catherine O’Donnell, sent out the survey about the two speakers. After receiving the survey results, O’Donnell recommended SHPRS Director Richard Amesbury cancel both events featuring Weinstein and Pavlich. In turn, Amesbury directed PHL to cancel the two speakers.

Included in the closing portion of the email was a quote from ASU’s Statement of Freedom of Expression:

“Without a vibrant commitment to free and open inquiry, a university ceases to be a university,” read the statement. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Phoenix Antifa Member Involved in BLM Riot Called for Death of Investigative Reporter

Phoenix Antifa Member Involved in BLM Riot Called for Death of Investigative Reporter

By Corinne Murdock |

A Phoenix-area Antifa member, Arizona State University (ASU) graduate, and certified nursing assistant (CNA), Marysa Leyva, made death threats against prominent investigative journalist Andy Ngo, who rehashed details about Leyva’s Antifa involvement and criminal history.  

Leyva’s comments were associated with claims that Ngo was behind the shooting that took place at an Antifa meeting in Portland, Oregon earlier this month. Ngo reported that Leyva resides in the Portland area, consistent with the location listed in one of her Twitter account bios. 

Levya’s Facebook profile listed her current residence as Mesa.

As Ngo reported, Leyva’s original account, @antifash_m, was suspended for violating Twitter rules. Leyva then made her backup account, @BirdAppFugitive, private after Ngo discovered it; sometime that same week, that secondary account was also suspended. Leyva’s bio describes the account as a slander account for Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel, who is under investigation by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the State Bar of Arizona for her sobriety and absence at work. 

Leyva was one of 15 individuals who received controversial and later dropped street gang charges for her involvement in the August 2020 Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest, which included assisting a criminal street gang, aggravated assault on an officer, rioting, unlawful assembly, resisting arrest, and obstructing a public thoroughfare. As AZ Free News reported, ASU graduate student Sarra Tekola was among those charged. Leyva told ABC15 Arizona that although the felony charges against her were dropped, the ordeal caused her to lose her patient care technician job with Tempe St. Luke’s emergency room. 

“We were like, this is just so outrageous,” said Leyva. “How are they ever going to prove this in a court of law? We know Phoenix Police Department is bad, but man, they, like, really were just seeing how much they could get away with.”

Leyva also tweeted that the survival of the five officers who were ambushed by a shooter earlier this month while trying to rescue an infant was a “missed opportunity.”

According to the Arizona State Board of Nursing, Leyva’s nursing license was issued December of last year, and won’t expire until March 2024.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

ASU Offers Murky Reasons For Canceling Fundraiser For Conservative Program

ASU Offers Murky Reasons For Canceling Fundraiser For Conservative Program

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona State University (ASU) decided to cancel a prominent conservative program’s first annual fundraiser scheduled for next month, and there are conflicting explanations behind their decision. The event was arranged to honor prominent community leaders Dan and Carleen Brophy; 100 percent of the event proceeds were to go to the program. 

Three different reasons for the event’s cancellation were given to different parties involved in the event. The first two related to technicalities: the uptick in COVID-19 cases, and one unnamed faculty member’s failure to follow ASU rules. The third had to do with a more contentious topic: the featured speakers. 

ASU’s decision means that the program, Political History and Leadership (PHL), may not obtain funds it anticipated from the event, which was to take place at the Desert Botanical Garden. Each guest would have paid $250 for attendance, and tables of eight would’ve pulled in $2,000.  The PHL Program is part of the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies.

AZ Free News learned that ASU informed several of the featured speakers that the event was canceled due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. 

Scientists hypothesize that COVID-19 likely functions as a seasonal disease. Last year, the case counts for February were nominal after the holiday spike.

AZ Free News also learned that ASU President Michael Crow wasn’t aware of the event or its cancellation, and that ASU would reschedule. However, emails obtained by AZ Free News indicated that the ASU administration was responsible for canceling the event.

ASU spokesman Jerry Gonzalez told AZ Free News a slightly different story. Gonzalez said that a faculty member broke the university’s scheduling protocol. When we asked which protocol was broken, ASU said it didn’t have any more information to provide.

“The event at the Desert Botanical Garden was canceled due to a breach of scheduling protocol by a faculty member in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies,” said Gonzalez. “The university welcomes the opportunity for this event to be rescheduled following the required protocols.”

AZ Free News also inquired of the ASU Foundation, which was in charge of receiving the program funds earned from the event and approving any event planning. They didn’t respond to any of our emails. 

A third potential reason surrounding the event cancellation had nothing to do with logistics. Some reported that they were informed that the event was canceled due to controversy over the choice of guest speakers: Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and former Utah congressman and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz. 

In a press release, Arizona Free Enterprise Club President Scot Mussi derided ASU based on the claim that they canceled the fundraiser over Biggs and Chaffetz.

“It is outrageous that Michael Crow and ASU would cancel an ASU Foundation Fundraiser because they oppose the views and philosophy of the featured speakers attending the event. It is becoming clear that woke cancel culture has taken over every office at the University,” said Mussi. “ASU doesn’t have a problem with liberal activists and public officials appearing at the school for various events. It is well known that Democrat politicians, including US Senator Kyrsten Sinema, have in the past or currently work for the University at taxpayer expense. It only becomes a problem when the speaker is a conservative. If Michael Crow is going to surrender to the ‘cancel culture’ mob, then he is no longer fit to be ASU President and should resign.”

Those registered for the PHL event will receive full refunds.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

ASU Activist Students That Harassed White Male Peers Revile University For Punishing Them

ASU Activist Students That Harassed White Male Peers Revile University For Punishing Them

By Corinne Murdock |

At the end of September, three female students took it upon themselves to defend an unofficially-established multicultural center at the Arizona State University (ASU) Tempe campus by segregating those unwelcome in the longtime common room: white males with what appeared to be differing political beliefs. After two of the students, Sarra Tekola and Mastaani Qureshi, received a punishment of a reflection essay and light warning from the university, the activist pair spoke out in a video posted last week to the Instagram page for their activist group, the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition (MSC). The third student involved, Miriam “Mimi” Araya, wasn’t found guilty of any code of conduct violations. 

In their nine-minute video, Tekola and Qureshi claimed that ASU was toxic and a training ground for Nazis and white supremacy. Two ASU professors submitted videos to support the activist pair: English professor Lee Bebout and School of Social Transformation Director Camilla Fojas.

At the time of the incident, ASU claimed to AZ Free News that the three women were engaged in a “disagreement” highlighting “differences of opinion” that were “part of the university experience.” Then, AZ Free News reported last month that the women were being investigated for code of conduct violations. 

When the three women recorded their confrontation with two white male students, they demanded that the pair leave because they were white, male, and displaying perceived controversial political messaging: a ‘Police Lives Matter’ sticker, a Bass Pro Shop hat, a Chick-fil-A cup, and a ‘Did Not Vote for Biden’ t-shirt. The three women called the pair “racist” and “Karens,” while accusing them of promoting murderers and white supremacy. 

A week prior to their exhortation video against ASU, MSC lamented that the university continued to uphold “respectability politics.” That concept claims that marginalized groups shouldn’t adhere to any cultural or political norms of their oppressors in attempts to reconcile differences. 

The following are the complete remarks from Tekola and Qureshi’s video complaint: 

Qureshi: On September 23, hateful and racist symbology invaded our Multicultural Center on ASU’s Tempe Campus, and made the center unsafe for BIPOC [Black Indigenous People of Color] students who were trying to study. The two white men, both students, displayed a ‘Police Lives Matter’ sticker, a Bass Pro hat, a Chick-fil-A cup, and an anti-Biden t-shirt. 

Tekola: The Police Lives Matter sticker was on one of the white man’s laptop, [sic] laptop which was clearly directed towards a black woman who was leading the black study tables across from him, as the boys chose to sit across from the black study tables. The boys made the space uncomfortable with their nonverbal, aggressive gestures directed towards the black women. The students called for help from ASU but no one came for over 30 minutes, so we were forced to confront these men by ourselves.

Qureshi: After this incident we received thousands of rape, death, and lynching threats on our personal Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts. It has been more than two months since the incident, and Zarra and I receive these threats every single day. 

Tekola: ASU was aware of how we were getting doxxed and suffering psychological and emotional violence by white supremacists across the country, but it still did not protect us. Instead, they launched an investigation against us and we had to mobilize the community to protect ourselves from being kicked out by the institution. ASU’s investigation found us guilty of interfering with university activities. 

Qureshi and Tekola: Dear white people: aka, ASU.

Qureshi: You openly discriminated against us on November 16 when you handed down your decision from your racially biased investigation. We are being persecuted for defending our Multicultural Center from racism and sexism. You gave us two punishments: the first one was a warning, and the second one as to write a three page paper on how next time when we talk with white people about race and society we will be civil.

Tekola: This video is a fulfillment of our educational intervention. We are going to give ASU an educational intervention on why telling students of color at ASU to be more civil in the face of white supremacy and neo-Nazism on this campus is actually violent.

Qureshi: ASU is a violent place. Just last week there was an Islamaphobic attack at ASU in which pages from Quran Majeed, the holiest book for Mulsims, were ripped apart and burned for Muslim students to find in the interfaith room. The interfaith room is they only place on campus where Muslim students are told they should pray in. Meanwhile there are multiple small rooms in the multicultural center at ASU Tempe that Muslim women, who are looking for a private place to pray in, are locked out of. We are told the reason that Musllim women cannot use those small spaces to pray in is because it would not be equal.

Tekola: You see, this is the problem: ASU does not understand the difference between equity and equality. And ASU refuses to center the most marginalized. In addition to that hate crime, around October 31 another hate crime happened at ASU Tempe where anti-Semitism flyers littered the campus. These flyers had an ASU registered student club, the College Republicans United, on the flyer. This is the same club that raised money for Kyle Rittenhouse, and these are just the attacks that happened since our own viral incident on September 23. This tells you a little bit about the type of environment, the toxic place that ASU wants us to be civil in. 

[clip of Tekola speaking at a protest]: I have come to MLK’s conclusion that I have integrated my people into a burning building. ASU is on fire. For years, ASU has refused to put out a statement condemning white supremacy after being used as a recruiting ground for Nazis, breeding the culture of hate on this campus. They claim it is because of ‘free speech,’ and yet we students of color are being punished for our free speech. I am being punished for being too black, too proud, too loud, and unapologetic. I am being punished for not adopting their respectability politics, but I don’t need respectability politics. I am a foreign fellow appointed by President Crowe himself to the African Advisory Council. I achieved all this while refusing to tone down my blackness to make white people feel more comfortable. Our center has been infiltrated by Trump supporters, and ASU is telling us ‘there’s nothing we can do.’ ASU refuses to protect students of color and the world needs to know how they treat us here on this campus when we push to make it a better place for all.

Bebout (in a clip): Calls for civil dialogue can be weaponized in two critical ways. First, if a white person actively trolls and provokes an encounter but does so in a relatively complicit way — say they enter a space meant to foreground the experiences of people of color, and these folks deploy a rhetoric meant to diminish black and queer lives — as long as the trolling is plausibly deniable to an ideologically white-oriented audience, that any pushback that the white individuals receive may be cast as aggression. The act of instigation itself would be erased, and the instigators will be cast as victims, and the people who seek to defend themselves will be seen as oppressors, uncivil, harassers. Second, because of the way in which civil and rational dialogue is racially coded, when white-aligned institutions call for people of color to be civil to interlocutors that have no interest in earnestly engaging and listening; whether intentionally or not, these institutions are asking people of color and other aggrieved communities to be quieter. They are asking them to be less vociferous in their defense of their personhood. In other words, calls for civility easily become calls for docility: a submission to the way things are, as opposed to a vocal defense of the world as it should be. 

Qureshi (in two separate clips from speeches at protests): ASU is angry at me, and wants me to put me back in my place as a brown woman. ASU is punishing us for standing up for our friends and other students of color. ASU is punishing us for telling two white boys that only one room on campus is not going to center them. […] If you all didn’t see it yesterday, the provost of this university, Nancy Gonzales, sent out a statement yesterday in response to the 3,511-plus messages received in support of us. In her statement, Nancy Gonzales tries to sympathize with Zarra, Mimi, and I and assures everyone that ASU is handling this case with cultural awareness. But in her statement, she misspells my first name! How are you going to support me if you even can’t spell my first name correctly on an appropriate statement. This is the level of care ASU has for us: they’re insensitive to Pakistani and Muslim cultures. They want us to turn in a written statement by December 15 explaining how we will be civil and how, and I quote, ‘You might approach such a situation in the future to facilitate a civil dialogue on the purpose of the MC [Multicultural Center] or the topics of race and society are addressed in this confrontation.’ They want me to be civil! They’re calling me a savage! This is what white people did when they came to my country and they colonized us for 270 years!

Fojas (in a clip): […] I think their reaction was justified and was equal to the symbolic violence that these students and their presence and the symbols that were brought into the space represented.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

ASU Silent On Protests Against Rittenhouse

ASU Silent On Protests Against Rittenhouse

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona State University (ASU) told AZ Free News that it doesn’t have anything to say about Wednesday’s student-led protest against Kyle Rittenhouse’s prospective enrollment to the university. Four student organizations that advocate for socialism and other social justice causes coordinated the protest: Students For Socialism (SFS), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition (MSC). The following is the only statement ASU spokespersons had concerning Rittenhouse:

“Kyle Rittenhouse has not gone through the ASU admissions process. University records show that he is not currently enrolled in any classes at ASU.”

The ASU newspaper, State Press, confirmed earlier this week with ASU spokespersons that Rittenhouse isn’t enrolled currently because Rittenhouse took a “compassionate withdrawal” ahead of his trial. ASU spokesman Jay Thorne also clarified that ASU doesn’t ask for prospective students’ criminal history during the admissions process.

ASU President Michael Crow clarified in an alternative, slightly lengthier statement to State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) that Rittenhouse voluntarily unenrolled, and ASU would consider Rittenhouse’s application with the same consideration granted to any other applicant should he decide to reenroll.

“Kyle Rittenhouse did not go through the ASU admissions process, but was enrolled in two publicly available courses for this semester. University records show that he is now no longer enrolled, a status precipitated by his own actions,” wrote Crow. “As a university that measures itself by whom it includes and how they succeed, should he choose to seek admission in the future, his application will be processed as any other would be.”

The student organizations said it didn’t matter to them that Rittenhouse wasn’t enrolled currently – the fact that he planned to enroll again in the spring was still problematic.

“While students with debilitating medical problems or going through mental health crises must fight tooth and nail for medical leave of absence, Rittenhouse is given ‘compassionate’ withdrawal to deal with his murder trial – unacceptable,” tweeted SFS in back-to-back tweets sharing the State Press coverage. “We will not allow it! Killer Kyle off our campus!”

In an interview with The Conservative Circus, ASU College Republicans United (CRU) State Chair Ren Ramsey insisted that the behavior of the four student organizations was harassment. 

“[T]he fact that these radical, domestic extremist [student] organizations on campus have created a hostile environment for many students that have conservative or patriotic beliefs,” said Ramsey. “We would like to make a demand that [these organizations] be suspended. They deliberately created a hostile environment for Kyle Rittenhouse. [Campus] was made unsafe for him, for many other conservative students. We want the ASU administration to place them under suspension. They’ve also been involved in pushing out two white kids from the multicultural center for being white.”

Ramsey further claimed that ASU has consistently supported the behaviors and values of the organizations protesting Rittenhouse, and has been hostile to organizations like theirs. He asserted that ASU officials gave MEChA an entire basement area to use, but won’t give CRU a professor to serve as their advisor.

As for the multicultural center incident, Ramsey was citing the September incident in which three female student activists harassed two of their peers out of a common area for being white males displaying “racist” messaging, such as a “Police Lives Matter” sticker. ASU found that the women involved had violated several policies within the university’s Code of Conduct, though it is unclear if any disciplinary action has been taken yet. 

The student organizations aren’t only protesting the potential admission of Rittenhouse – they’re also making demands of ASU. The groups insisted that ASU rectify Rittenhouse’s past and potential future presence on campus by funding the Multicultural Center and a Campus Assault Advocacy, Resources & Education (CAARE) Center, a rape crisis center helping sexual and domestic assault victims. ASU wouldn’t comment on these demands, either. 

“It’s good to see he knows he’s not welcome here, we’ll still be there Wednesday to tell administration to support our other demands,” said the organization. “Denounce white supremacy, fund the Multicultural Center and the CAARE center!”

Rosenbaum was a convicted child molestor, and Huber was a convicted domestic abuser. In their statements, the coalition of student organizations only referred to the deceased men as “anti-racist protestors” and victims.

Court proceedings revealed that Rosenbaum wasn’t at the Kenosha, Wisconsin riots to protest for Black Lives Matter (BLM) or anti-racism. Rather, Rosenbaum happened to be discharged that day from a mental hospital for a suicide attempt; Rosenbaum threw a hospital-provided plastic toiletries bag at Rittenhouse just before the fatal moment when he grabbed the barrel of Rittenhouse’s gun.

The claimed “anti-racist” was also heard by eyewitnesses and recorded as having shouted repeatedly a racial slur: “Shoot me n***a!”

AZ Free News asked SFS why they and their coalition of fellow student organizations chose to use their Rittenhouse protest to demand funds for a CAARE center, considering the criminal histories of Rosenbaum and Huber. SFS responded that Rosenbaum and Huber could have been anyone.

“Did Rittenhouse run a background check on Rosenbaum before? Are you saying he premeditated the murder? No, he didn’t. It could have been anyone. Period,” responded SFS.

We attempted to follow up further with SFS on their response and our other, unanswered question. They didn’t respond by press time. 

Another similar effort to bar Rittenhouse from attending ASU – a Change.org petition unaffiliated with the student organizations’ efforts – has garnered around 13,000 signatures as of press time. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.