BINGHAMTON, NY – Binghamton University College Republicans who say they feel under siege got support from a GOP lawmaker today.
Congressman Tom Reed of Corning visited with the BU students on campus today to discuss two incidents in November in which the students felt their free speech rights were violated.
A planned lecture by prominent conservative economist Art Laffer was disrupted by protesters and had to be canceled and an effort by the College Republicans days earlier to promote the event turned into an ugly confrontation with progressive students.
College Republican Lacey Kestecher says protesters tried to intimidate her and she no longer feels safe on campus.
“If the cops hadn’t come, I think it would have gone physical. And I feel as if now we’re still not in the clear ultimately. We still have to take precautions. If that means walking in groups, walking together with people, that’s something that we have to do,” says College Republicans member Lacey Kestecher.
“To have someone like that, Congressman Tom Reed, who is powerful, a man in Washington, someone who has a big voice, a legitimate say, come in and support us, is so important to our organization,” says President Jon Lizak.
The College Republicans say the student-run Student Association has frozen their account and suspended their ability to reserve rooms on campus.
Reed took their concerns directly to BU President Harvey Stenger whom he met with this afternoon.
The Republican Congressman, whose district includes most of Tioga County, says he appreciated the meeting.
Reed says Stenger expressed a willingness to learn from incidents, do better and offered assistance to the students affected.
“Today is just the beginning. I can’t declare that I’m satisfied. I’m still appalled that this type of behavior occurred here just outside our district. Time will be the test of whether or not I’m satisfied with this result. As long as this continues to go on, this attack on free speech, hopefully we can take care of it here at Binghamton University. But, I know this is a battle that we have to continue elsewhere too,” says Tom Reed.
Reed, who knows Laffer personally, says he will work to reschedule the economist’s presentation on campus.
Stenger released a statement saying that he was glad to have the opportunity to explain the university’s response to the incidents and that Reed left with a better understanding of what happened.
You can read the university’s full statement and watch Reed’s entire news conference, including his views on impeachment and President Trump’s re-election bid, here.