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College Republicans Apologize After Anti-Semitic Valentine Draws University Condemnation

The College Republicans at Central Michigan University have apologized and denied prior knowledge of the card.

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The College Republicans at Central Michigan University are facing widespread condemnation after passing out an anti-Semitic Valentine's Day card.

Madison Rodriguez Eberth

CMU junior Madison Rodriguez Eberth told BuzzFeed News she saw the card on Wednesday night, after it was accidentally given to a member of the Organization of Women Leaders, a club Eberth serves as president of.

The card had a picture of Hitler on it and said "my love 4 u burns like 6,000 jews."

The card misstates the number of deaths of Jews in the Holocaust. Six million Jews were actually killed.

Eberth said the card was inside a goody bag that came from a College Republicans Valentine's Day party. The male club member who passed it off was unaware of the card and just didn't want the candy that came with it.

It is not clear who Courtney, whose name is signed to the card, is.

"When I saw it, it really surprised me. I was so shocked by the message, and really upset that something like this could happen at my campus," Eberth said. "As the leader of a feminist organization, I'm a huge advocate for equality for all people, and seeing something like this is so terrible. I felt like this wasn't something I could just push aside."

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.

Central Michigan University students protest following racist Valentine. Schools' prez says "this is not who we are… https://t.co/C6qqTJbtQb

Eberth said the rally was not just a response to the anti-Semitic card, "but instead was addressing hate speech as a whole, and to show that the student body won't stand for it."

College Republicans were also in attendance "to show that they as an organization do not tolerate hate speech either," she said.

"I think the most important thing here is coming together and staying strong," Eberth said. "We need people standing up for equality now more than ever, and I'm proud to be part of organizations on campus that do that, and I think that by continuing to work hard for what we believe in, we can continue to combat things like this and make a difference."

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 julia.reinstein@buzzfeed.com.

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