Criminalizing politics

University of Nevada, Reno College Republicans took legal action against opponents of campus military recruiting.

At a campus protest on Nov. 2 during a “career fair,” protesters were served with a summons. Protest leader Lindsey Burrows declined to comment, saying the various groups involved wanted to formulate a group response.

However, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada director Bob Fulkerson said in an e-mail, “The students … who protested military recruiters at UNR yesterday were just handed a summons—they’re being sued by the UNR College Republicans for general misconduct and have 20 days to respond to the court. They don’t have a lawyer and don’t have money to hire one. But they are doing great work and need our support.”

A representative of College Republicans could not be reached for comment. However, the Pack Patriot—a newspaper at UNR that is aligned with CR—has a blog linked to the CR Web site that had this to say:

“Career Services set a bad precedent today by allowing protestors to block access to military booths. No action was, or will be taken against the individuals by the university.

“Those to be held responsible for inaction:

“Kevin Gaw Director of Career Services/Mr. Gaw had the authority to kick the protestors out. During the protest, the police asked him what he wanted to do. He did not take action. The least he could do is refund the Army’s money.

“UNR PD/The police department could have removed the individuals for obstructing the booth. They stood back and did nothing.

“This, of course, does not take away any responsibility from the protestors themselves. It should be clear at this point who supports the troops, and who works to prevent them from doing their job.”

Burrows declined comment.

The complaint was filed by UNR College Republicans vice president Matt Beisner. It accuses three groups—Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, Nevada Students for Peace and Solidarity, and UNR Queer Student Union—of harassing Beisner and members of CR because of their favorable opinions of military recruitment on campus, and of blocking Beisner and other students from access to the recruitment booth. At the time, it says, Beisner and his group were engaged in a counter-protest.

“[Beisner] believes the immediacy and limited time in which the UNR Career Fair is made available to students renders it ineffectual if other students continually harass, cajole, and intimidate those seeking legitimate information from possible employers.”

College Republicans seem to be fairly litigious. College Republicans of Nevada is suing the student government at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas “under Nevada’s freedom of information laws” to find out why the CR chapter was suspended. (Nevada has a public records law but doesn’t have a freedom of information law.) The group wants copies of any records that explain the suspension.

In an intramural dispute involving the financial conduct of College Republicans of Nevada chair Nathan Taylor, UNR College Republicans president Kriston Whiteside filed a letter to support a police complaint. She said Taylor asked her to write a check to his cousin to repay a personal loan. The complaint was later withdrawn and an apology extended to Taylor.