The College Republicans at Central Michigan University are facing widespread condemnation after passing out an anti-Semitic Valentine's Day card.
The College Republicans apologized for the card and denied prior knowledge of its existence.
In a public apology on Facebook, they said:
At tonight’s College Republican meeting, we had a Valentine’s Day party, in which each member decorated a bag and other members placed Valentines inside of others’ bags. Unfortunately, a very inappropriate card was placed into a bag without other members’ knowledge. A bag was then given away to students sitting in Anspach, once again without members’ knowledge of its contents.
The College Republicans as an organization did not distribute this valentine. We in no way condone this type of rhetoric or anti-Semitism. We apologize for any offense, and want students to know that we do not tolerate this sort of behavior.
Mackenzie Flynn, CMU College Republicans president, told student newspaper Central Michigan Life the Valentine's Day goody bags were only meant to go to club members.
Flynn said the club had not created the card, but that one member had printed it out on a page of Valentine's Day memes.
"While still not appropriate, I want to clear up that they did not create it themselves," she said.
University President George Ross issued a statement Thursday, saying CMU administrators and campus police had discussed the "unacceptable" incident and launched an investigation.
"We are deeply disappointed by last night's situation with a Valentine card containing an inappropriate sentiment that was produced during a student organization meeting," Ross said. "This is not who we are as a campus community.
"Such hurtful, offensive language, while protected by the First Amendment, is unacceptable and is not consistent with our values and standards. ...
"We caution against concluding that the action is representative of the entire student organization or its members and remind all that threatening others as a result of such an incident can have legal consequences."
Hillel, the Jewish student organization on campus, said it was "deeply concerned and disappointed" by the incident and would work with university administration to ensure a proper investigation.
"We will continue to work with our campus and community partners to ensure all Jewish students feel safe and welcome on campus, and that incidents like this do not happen again," the group wrote on Facebook.
Following the incident, CMU students held a rally against hate speech on campus Thursday.
On Friday, CMU issued a statement saying the school had "concluded its inquiry."
According to the statement, the CMU Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity spoke to multiple individuals involved in the incident, and "determined the card was the misguided action of one individual, who readily admitted her role."
The woman who made the card is not currently a CMU student "and has left Mount Pleasant," according to the statement. It did not clarify whether the woman had ever been a student.
Associate Vice President of Communications Sherry Knight told BuzzFeed News the woman was not enrolled in CMU at least as of this year, but declined to say whether she'd been a student before then.
“There are federal laws that restrict what we can do," she explained, referencing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law that forbids schools from releasing information about students.
"The grossly offensive action of one individual, a non-student, has deeply distressed our campus community and others across the nation," President George Ross said in the statement. "With heavy hearts and great embarrassment, we apologize. To those of Jewish descent, rest assured that we stand with you and vow to continue the effort to educate others."
Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Julia Reinstein at email@example.com.
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