The president of a Cleveland college came under fire for his tepid response to a flier found on campus that urged LGBTQ people to commit suicide.
Cleveland State University students were outraged the school's president, Ronald Berkman, did not condemn the content of the flier but said the poster was protected under the First Amendment, FOX8 reported.
The flier, which was found last Thursday posted on one of the buildings on campus, showed a silhouette hanging from a rope. The flier read: “Follow your fellow f----ts.” The poster also had “statistics” of the rate of suicide in the LGBTQ community. The bottom of flier read: “Fascist solutions.” Cleveland.com reported police were investigating who posted the fliers.
Berkman released a statement Monday regarding the flier, stating the school was "committed to upholding the First Amendment."
"CSU also is committed to upholding the First Amendment, even with regard to controversial issues where opinion is divided,” Berkman's statement read.
Berkman issued another statement Tuesday, stating he did not fully express his “personal outrage” over the poster and invited students to a forum Wednesday to discuss the concerns on campus, FOX8 reported.
At the forum, students told Berkman they viewed the flier as a “death threat.”
"The impact that was made especially toward black and queer students on this campus how a lot of us feel unsafe and how you handled the situation you could have handled it a lot better," a student told Berkman at the forum, FOX8 reported.
Berkman said he condemned the poster but reiterated that “hate speech was protected under the First Amendment.”
"You designate a group to meet with the chief diversity officer and vice president of student affairs and you tell us what it is we need to do for you to feel comfortable and safe on campus," Berkman told the audience.
He apologized for not condemning the posters more sternly.
A few students left the forum, some reportedly cursing at Berkman, while others stood outside the auditorium and protested the event, WKYC reported.