Correction: This story was corrected on Aug. 18 at 5:00 Pm. The letter was attributed to Bethany Lesh when the actual author was Hina Ahmad with minimal input at the beginning and end by Lesh.
From Hina Ahmad
In solidarity with my Muslim and immigrant peers, I would like to forward this letter of complaint about The Daily Titan advertisement posted on May 12, 2016: “The Muslim Immigrant Question.” I would hope that you consider our words and publish an apology on the behalf of Muslim and immigrant students, faculty and staff.
I am uncomfortable with and hurt by the fact that The Daily Titan accepted money for an advertisement that promotes hatred and fear toward Muslims. CSUF is a diverse institution with a large, peaceful Muslim population. In addition, the ad was anti-immigrant. The message of the ad is loud and clear: “We don’t want you here.” In fact, what I hear is, you don’t want my colleagues here.
I am in solidarity with Muslims and other marginalized and minority groups who have the right to feel safe and unthreatened on campus. I will not allow my institution or any organization within it that claims to be “the student voice of California State University, Fullerton” to perpetuate hate and fear toward a marginalized group -— especially, an organization that does so with an advertisement that has skewed statistics and twisted interpretations.
This was not only irresponsible; it was harmful. Your ad sends a message that hate is acceptable on our campus. By accepting money for this ad, you communicate on behalf of an organization within the institution that that money is more important than my belonging, education and safety. The anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant ad is in direct conflict with Titan values. It is unacceptable to me that you would put money before the well-being of your fellow Titans.
I strongly encourage you to think critically when writing and choosing advertisements in the future and the impact it has on the CSUF community. Your freedom of speech does not come without consequence. As a Titan, I expect students who claim to be “the voice of students” to practice responsible journalism.
My colleagues deserve to be in this community free from hate and violence of any form, and I demand a public apology. An apology not only to Muslim students, but to all students who felt that the ad was not reflective of Titan values.
My additional two cents in this is to note that only because I assume that Flame group likely consists of the type of people who demand freedom of speech. Supreme Court precedent has established that hateful and incendiary speech is not protected under the First Amendment of the United States’ Constitution. When approached by persons who wish to publish hateful articles, and likely argue that it is their First Amendment right, I would tell you this: you will deal with a lawsuit either way. Either you legally fight those you know are hateful and unjust, or you legally fight the marginalized students whose campus environment has yet been made more hostile by the distribution of this advertisement. It is your choice.