Section: News

Launch of conservative-leaning website causes controversy

Launch of conservative-leaning website causes controversy

screenshot courtesy of his campus

“The voice of the majority around college campuses has destroyed intellectual conversation, telling people what they can and cannot say, through PC culture and safe spaces. In just over one semester on a college campus, His Campus’ founders … have personally experienced this and wish to do something about it.”

This is the mission statement of His Campus, a blog founded by Will Allen ’20 and Eric Del Rosso ’20 on Feb. 18. The blog, which received more than 17,500 page views in its first five days online and has eight posts as of Wednesday, brands itself as a platform for students with views that differ from the majority on Kenyon’s campus.

“Eric Del Rosso and I decided to create His Campus after many conversations with fellow students regarding their inability to express views in a safe environment,” Allen wrote in an email to the Collegian. “We feel, at Kenyon and other liberal arts colleges across America, there is one dominant viewpoint that silences all others. His Campus wants to change that.” The His Campus co- founders declined to comment further for this article.

His Campus posts include “Student Life: Not So Safe Space,” a Feb. 18 piece in which Del Rosso discusses the experience of being labeled a bigot for expressing discomfort with the idea of having a transgender child, and “Dear Liberals,” a Feb. 24 post by an anonymous author that claims leftist “anti-white, anti-male, anti-cop, anti- American” rhetoric resulted in the election of President Donald Trump.

The website’s launch was widely criticized by students. When Allen posted the website on the Kenyon Class of 2020 Facebook page, several students took issue with the name of the site. His Campus’ name is a reference to Her Campus, an online magazine whose content is catered toward “empowered college women,” according to their website. Her Campus has chapters in nine countries and on 320 campuses nationwide, including one at Kenyon.

In a Feb. 18 His Campus article entitled “Her Campus vs. His Campus,” Allen states that the role of His Campus was not originally “to contradict and oppose the ideas of Her Campus.” But when Allen and Del Rosso discovered that the link to redirects to Her Campus’ national website, they concluded that Her Campus wishes to “suppress any possibility of men having their own voice on college campuses,” according to Allen’s post.

“Both Her Campus National and Her Campus Kenyon work to empower people of all gender identities,” HCK Co-Editor-in-Chief Inês Forjaz de Lacerda ’17 said. “This is done by publishing content that is uplifting for everyone to read, by interviewing male-identifying people about their work within a particular community and by publishing articles written by men.”

Much of the pushback that His Campus received was articulated through “ridicule and contempt,” Charlotte Freccia ’19 said. Graeme Taylor ’18, who said his small-government views are also in the minority at Kenyon, was disheartened to see this reaction.

“Most of His Campus’s critics ended up proving their point, because all they did was insult the website online,” Taylor said. “I didn’t see many people making articulated responses or trying to explain why their claims might not be so true.”

In an attempt to engage with the platform, Taylor decided to submit an article through the website’s submissions feature. “I’d like to ask the publishers of His Campus if they believe that they would be able to create their own political blog if they lived in countries under totalitarian regimes such as China, North Korea, Cuba or Saudi Arabia,” Taylor wrote in the article he submitted. “If the ‘voice of the majority around college campuses has destroyed intellectual conversation’ in America, then why is it that I am engaging in an intellectual conversation with you on your terms?”

The article has not yet been posted on the website. It was submitted on Feb. 24.

Kyla Spencer ’18 believes the content of the website did not warrant a serious response. She described their views as “rooted in ignorance and an obvious inability to listen to other people.”

“The reason that they might feel like they’re being silenced is because they are,” Spencer said. “Genuinely, I don’t have to listen to anyone that asks me to defend my humanity, as a black woman.”

Meredith Awalt ’19 questioned the need for a publication that centers on Kenyon men’s perspectives.

“Over this past semester … I’ve been cat-called by students that I recognized, shared classes with two sexual assailants, I was grabbed unwillingly at a party and faced other oppressive actions both directly and indirectly,” Awalt said. “Kenyon already is ‘his campus.’”

Student reactions were not entirely negative, however. Although Allen and Del Rosso declined to share the names of their supporters for fear of social stigmatization, some students on campus have been vocal proponents of His Campus’ mission. Mikey Arman ’18 agrees with His Campus’s claims about the one-sidedness of campus dialogues.

“Some people will listen to ‘non- Kenyon’ views, but I feel like there is a large population at Kenyon who do not,” Arman said. “I noticed that when I wore a Trump hat one day. The looks I got were outrageous … One [person] said, ‘How dare you wear this hat at Kenyon?’”

Taylor, too, has faced moments in which he must censor his views because he knows they will be met with resistance. “Pretty much every day, there’s a viewpoint that I have that I choose not to express because it wouldn’t go over well in conversation,” Taylor said.

“Personally, I support His Campus,” Arman said. “I think it’s important for people to have an open mind, whether you agree or disagree.”

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