by Catherine Debelle
Over 150 students and faculty came to express their concerns over the impact they feel YWC would have on their campus.
Chief among their concerns is safety. One student at the debate also poignantly pointed out that even if students do not agree with the message that YWC stands for, if SGA approved them, student tuition will be funding their existence and activities.
According to Kenan Herber, President of Towson’s Black Student Union, this is true. “We’ve done extensive research, and the [YWC] is affiliated with hate groups. In the past, we’ve had a lot of racial incidents at Towson University,” he said. “If you give students an avenue to express their hate, they’re just going to cause turmoil. I think it’s a potentially dangerous situation for the student body as a collective.”
YWC has long history of espousing hateful rhetoric—authors of articles on their website argue against multiculturalism and affirmative action, they denigrate immigrants and cast off LBGTQ rights, and they’re are often guilty of flagrant Islamaphobia. Over the years, YWC has also kept some sordid company, generally operating where a sphere of thought/action is created by overlaps of far-right white nationalists and anti-immigrant activists:
- YWC’s existence is made possible by financial advising from the Leadership Institute, a right-wing organization that specializes in training and financing activists. Karl Rove is but one infamous graduate of their trainings.
- YWC founder Kevin DeAnna is currently a deputy field director for the Leadership Institute. Deanna also posted several times on the “Spartan Spectator,” the website for the Michigan State University Chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (MSU-YAF).
- The MSU-YAF has sponsored events such as Catch an Illegal Alien Day and a Koran Desecration Contest, has posted “Gays spread AIDS” fliers across campus, has called Latino students and faculty members “savages,” and has also – albeit in cold-hearted jest – threatened to distribute small-pox infected blankets to Native American students.
- YWC also actively seeks to develop and maintain international ties to hate groups and far-right political parties in Europe. For instance, on May 7 Taylor Rose, a member of the Liberty University chapter of YWC, appeared at an international anti-Islamic demonstration in Cologne, Germany, called the “March for Freedom.” The march was sponsored by Cities Against Islamization, a coalition of various far-right groups, some of whose members are widely recognized as extremists by European authorities.
It goes without saying that many of YWC’s members, not just Rose and DeAnna, maintain some extremely troubling connections. One needs to look no further than the president of Towson’s newly formed chapter, Matthew Heimbach, for just one example.
Heimbach is a member of the Maryland Chapter of the League of the South, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). For it’s part, the League of the South is devoted to reviving Southern heritage, to openly opposing interracial marriage, and to defending segregation as a policy designed to protect the “integrity” of the white race. The group’s national leader, Michael Hill, also once proclaimed that antebellum-era slavery was “God-ordained.” Heimbach even spoke at recent LOS gathering, underscoring before all how many of YWC’s goals are those of LOS, as well.
Despite the strong opposition present, Towson’s SGA voted to recognize YWC by a 10-5 vote. Regardless, YWC must now realize they’ll need to tread carefully, as they’ll be under a finely focused microscope. Any and all inflammatory actions are sure to be met with stern and immediate opposition, as well. The emergence of campus groups like YWC, after all, often brings a student body together, uniting individuals where before was only disunity.