Michigan Tech students and members of the Young Americans for Freedom organization spoke to Fox News Digital about an university professor’s angry tirade against their group.
Audio from the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) released on November 14 featured history and anthropology professor Dr. Carl Blair appearing to launch into a tirade against the organization following its Freedom Week project on campus. The student group constructed a mock Berlin Wall to commemorate the 34th anniversary of its fall, an act Blair derided as “childish” and “stupid.”
“For those of you who weren’t aware of it [YAF’s Freedom Week activism project], good. For those of you who were aware of it, it was childish, stupid, homophobic, dumb, racist twits. That’s the polite version,” Blair said.
Young Americans for Freedom chapter chair Andrew Feys expressed his surprise at the comments, particularly in the classroom.
“So I was kind of thinking just how could he slander our university club and all these students, some of which were even his own students? I just thought it was kind of out there for him to do that and slander us and call us those names,” Feys said.
Fellow YAF member Brandon Grzadzinski confirmed he was the student who originally recorded the audio, stating that he was “sitting up front” when Blair began speaking.
Though the students were surprised by the professor’s remarks, they were particularly confused over why they were accused of being “homophobic” and “racist” over the mock Berlin Wall.
“That is an excellent question, and we do not have the answer to that. Because I’m left wondering myself what exactly we did that would make us have those names or let us have those names? I’m not sure,” YAF member Jacob Romanowski said.
Feys added, “It seems at this university, we kind of are always at odds with the left. And we do have, you know, the occasional few problems. But other than that, we haven’t had anything major like this before.”
Despite the attacks from Blair, the students revealed that they “have received quite a bit” of support for sticking to their beliefs.
“A lot of students will come up to us, and thank us for being the ones to stand up and use our voices because they’re scared to come out and say something for fear of losing friends or fear of getting bad grades and things like that. But yeah, we’ve received also quite a bit of support from faculty members, particularly our sort of pseudo-advisor. He’s been very, very helpful for us,” Feys said.
Romanowski added, “We’ve had some issues, but they’ve usually been relatively isolated and isolated usually to a particular group of students on campus with whom we’ve been in contact with before and had meetings with before about why they target our events. But outside of that, mostly the student body and many faculty remained neutral or in quiet support of us.”
After Blair’s comments went viral, an email was sent out to Michigan Tech University students on Thursday that revealed Blair would be replaced for the rest of the semester following Thanksgiving break.
“As an institution with a strong research focus, Michigan Tech vigorously supports freedom of speech and academic freedom. We follow the Chicago Principles in this manner. With this we expect an environment of respect and acceptance of diverse perspectives, perhaps most importantly within our classrooms. We regret that this has not been your experience in this class this week,” the email read.
It continued, “Tomorrow’s class (Friday Nov. 17) has been canceled, and upon return after the Thanksgiving break we have arranged for a different instructor for the remainder of the semester. You will receive information from your new instructor prior to the first day of class after break.”
In a statement after the email was sent out, Feys remarked, “We’re very glad that the university is standing up for free speech and won’t back down even when professors go against it.”
In the aftermath of Blair’s comments, the students encouraged other college groups to stick to their principles in the face of hostility.
“Don’t give up. Persevere and continue the quest for free speech on campus. It’s really important. People have died for it, and that’s something that’s worth fighting for,” Feys said.