Open Letter To The USF President On Conservative Extremism On Campus

Open Letter To The USF President On Conservative Extremism On Campus

Our campus should not be encouraging hate.

Dear USF President Judy Genshaft,

I write to you on behalf of us members of the USF community who feel as strongly about the subject as I do. I will begin by saying that this is not a petty complaint, I love being a student at the University of South Florida. The faculty and staff are unlike any other professors I've had at other institutions. And the passion and genuine love for the school that I and the student body possess is truly one of a kind. There is no other thing I would rather be than a USF Bull.

It is because of my love for this school that I would like to address the growing issue of extremist conservative groups that have congregated and harassed students on the USF property. In the recent months, there have been two groups in particular that have harassed and attacked students over their beliefs in an aggressive manner. These groups have established grounds in front of the two busiest places on campus, the library and Cooper Hall, and have gotten more hostile to students in the recent weeks. In an institution who's goal is to promote a safe and fun learning environment, I feel that these groups are hazardous to the students and faculty.

The first group I would like to address is a radical Christian organization that gathers on the lawn between the library and Cooper Hall once a month. To begin with, I am in full support of the First Amendment, in which we are granted the right to the freedoms of religion and expression. I am not complaining about all religious groups, as that there are several religious organizations who gather at USF to peacefully and respectfully spread the word of their beliefs and conversate with the faculty and students. This particular group, however, has not taken this approach. This extremist Christian group gathers with large posters to warn and condemn students that they will be going to Hell if they participate in actions that are but not limited to homosexuality, premarital sex, recreational alcohol consumption, and not abiding by the rules or acknowledging the existence the Christian God. Not only are some of these actions common among college students, but this group specifically targets members of minority religions and the LGBT community.

This past week, a man speaking on behalf of the extremist group proceeded to call all of the female students "whores" and said that they "should not be spreading their legs to every frat boy and lesbian who walks by them." The man also began to attack a Muslim student after he began to defend his religion. The bigot from the church group began insulting the Muslim student by saying that his religion promotes terrorism and rape. The extremist also asked the Muslim student if he was a terrorist or if he supported ISIS, then he also continued to mock his foregin accent. The University of South Florida is comprised of a large amount of foreign students and professors from different cultures, as well as a diverse local student and staff population. I feel that it is not fair to those who do not believe or participate in Christianity to be persecuted for their beliefs. And as a member of the LGBT community, many of us already face harsh criticism for our lifestyle choices in public, and for some, at home. In a place that many of call our second home, there is no excuse for students and faculty to feel attacked or that they should hide who they truly are in fear of groups like these.

The second group I will address is a Pro-Life organization who recently made an appearance the Wednesday following Spring Break. The Pro-Life group, who appeared on International Women's Day, gathered on the lawn in between the library and Cooper Hall. The Pro-Life organization set up massive graphic photographs of dismembered fetuses as the result of late-term abortion operations; images that were so graphic and disturbing, that they should not have been advertised in such a public area. The group also had photos demonizing women who chose to have abortions, including their personal information such as their names, pictures, and dates they supposedly had this procedure. The organization members then proceeded to hand out flyers with these graphic images and wanted to engage in conversations with students and staff about abortion. In my personal experience with this group, after I respectfully declined to engage in a conversation with a man from this organization, the man continued to follow and harass me and ask why I did not want to conversate with him and repeatedly said, "I just want to talk about abortion." It wasn't until I firmly told him no and to stay away from me that the man from the Pro-Life group walked away. Throughout the day, I've heard several complaints from predominantly female students who have had similar interactions with this group. Though I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinions on such a controversial subject, no person should ever have to be harassed or exposed to graphic images if they do not choose to. The Pro-Life organization did nothing but upset and make the students and faculty feel uncomfortable with their straw man argument.

The University of South Florida praises themselves to be a community that is accepting and celebrates diversity among their faculty and students. Following the implementation of President Donald Trump's travel ban, USF issued a statement to their faculty and students saying that they will not tolerate hate on their campuses. However, actions speak much louder than words. And the lack of intervention between USF and these extremist organizations leads me to question how genuine the school's statements about safety and diversity truly are. If the University of South Florida does care about the safety and wellbeing of their faculty and students, then they should not allow these extremist groups to gather on their property. While I share a deep love and passion for this school, it is because of these extremist groups that I cannot truly feel proud to be a USF Bull.


Ashley R. Schiedenhelm


For those who are reading this letter and want to see USF stop these hate groups from congregating on their campuses, please sign the petition on the blue link provided to show your support for this cause. The more signatures added, the more recognition we will receive from President Judy Genshaft.

Cover Image Credit: Ministry of Sound

Popular Right Now

Is Nursing School Really That Hard?

It's all about your perspective, but here's mine.

"Is nursing school as hard as they say it is?" This is the question that constantly entered my thoughts as I prepared to decide on which college major I would pursue. I anxiously wondered if helping others for the rest of my life would be worth all of the rigorous courses and lengthy clinical schedules. And here I am today, with a whole year of nursing school under my belt, feeling exhausted but accomplished and ready to keep moving forward.

SEE ALSO: I Am More Than Just A Nursing Student

Let's be real for a minute. Nursing school is a challenge that you will face unlike any others that will come your way. Some days you will think that you're going to fail a whole course just because you did badly on one test. Some days you will feel as if you are not capable of taking care of a sick person because you made numerous mistakes at clinicals. Some days you will be too tired to wake up to study because you just went to bed a few hours ago to take a break from studying. Nursing school will consume your life and, even when you do have some free time, you will be thinking about what you should be doing to prepare for your next class or that next test. Everyone says that it takes a special kind of person to be a nurse, and perhaps, they are right. There are numerous qualities found in a nurse, and perseverance is for sure one of them. So since that is the case, if you really want to be a nurse, you will find a way to make it through nursing school. Do not let all of the stories scare you away, because you will find a way to do what sounds impossible.

SEE ALSO: The Importance Of Choosing A Major That You Love

Let's look at the positives. Nursing school has just as many rewarding days as it does "I want to crawl in a hole and cry" days. Some days you will be so incredibly happy about your test grade you received that you will jump out of your chair with a big smile on your face (then quickly and quietly sit back down because you realize your classmates are staring holes through you). Some days, you will feel so good about yourself because you had a patient to tell you that you are going to be a great nurse because it did not even hurt when you inserted their IV. Some days, you will feel brilliantly smart because you looked over your clinical paperwork for hours and deciphered what was really going on with your patient and why. These are the moments that will help you to keep going because they remind you of what you are meant to do in life. Nursing school will let you feel every emotion possible and feel it to the depths. So just hang on and enjoy the emotional roller coaster, because it will be worth the ride.

Cover Image Credit: Ashley Williams

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

8 Mistakes Auburn Freshmen Always Make, Without Fail

You do NOT want to be guilty of #6.


With the summer coming to a close, the anxiety of incoming freshmen heightens. You wonder if you've bought enough stuff for your dorm, you worry that you won't have enough room to fit all the things you bought for your dorm, and there's always that thought in the back of your head, wondering if you'll be "freshmeat" to the upperclassmen all over again. While they might not look down on you as much as they did in high school, here are a few mistakes you need to know to avoid making yourself look like a total noob.

1. Only studying 1-2 days prior to a test.

We're all guilty of this one. The first test of freshman year is always a slap to the face because freshmen aren't accustomed to the vigorous studying that has to come before a test. They think, "I usually studied the night before a test in high school and did just fine, so if I start studying two days before a test I should be good." Nope. Professors know that freshmen don't prepare enough for their first test, but that doesn't mean they make it any easier. Use it as a learning experience to figure out what study habits work best for you (obviously not this one).

2. Doing laundry on Sundays.

Ahhh, Sundays, the day everyone collectively decides to get their crap together. The library is packed, Starbucks is sold out of venti cups, and freshmen migrate to the laundry rooms. It's annoying enough to have to break a $20 just to get quarters for the washing machine, but nothing is more frustrating than finding all the washers full with damp clothes, ready to be dried with no one around to pick them up. My best advice is to do laundry on Saturday morning when everyone's asleep till noon recovering from the night before.

3. Bringing every single thing on those online packing lists.

Universities don't release packing lists for a reason, because everything on those lists is basically useless after the first month. You're not gonna keep up with filling your Brita water filter, you'll probably just end up buying water bottles at the C-store. You'll most likely only use your mini ironing board once until you realize its pointless since everyone wears their clothes wrinkly anyway. Figure out the things you use on a daily basis at home, and only bring the necessities.

4. Going home every weekend.

This might seem tempting, especially after the homesickness kicks in, but you can never fully adjust to college if you're spending every weekend with your parents. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with seeing your parents while in college, just limit the contact to once or twice a month in order to make friends and feel comfortable being away from home.

5. Never utilizing the library until finals week.

The library is basically my home now, but nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find a table during finals week because they're all filled with freshmen trying to cram a semesters worth of information in a week. The library is always there, 24-7, but people forget how useful it is until the last week of the semester. Work as hard as you work for finals week every time you have a test. It'll make the stress of finals week a little less since you'll already have a grade you're comfortable with and won't be killing yourself for an A on the final in order to pass the class.

6. Wearing your favorite shoes to a frat party/downtown.

Even if you're wearing the cutest dress known to man that goes with nothing but your OTBTs, you're gonna have to sacrifice the outfit and switch out those wedges for converse if you want your shoes to survive. Between drinks getting spilled and people stepping on your feet, you're gonna be saying goodbye to the $125 you spent on those shoes. Bring an old pair of converse or vans with you to college that you wouldn't mind getting a little dirty.

7. Only studying with friends.

Studying with your friends sounds like a good idea until you find yourself gossiping and watching youtube videos, getting nothing productive done. Lots of freshmen are scared to go to the library alone but don't be. A good 90% of people there are studying alone, and you'll get waaay more done this way, giving you time to hang with your friends after.

8. Not going to the UPC events.

Welcome week is when UPC throws the biggest events of the year, such as Paradise on the Plains, Aubie Fest, and the Gameday Experience. These events are held to welcome you to campus, so take advantage of all the free things they have to offer! Free food, free games, and most importantly, free T-shirts. Don't miss out on these events because you're nervous to go to things alone (like I was), this is a perfect opportunity to make friends and get to know the campus a little better.

Freshman year is a rollercoaster, but hopefully knowing these few things to avoid will make it a little easier. Good luck and welcome to Auburn!

Related Content

Facebook Comments