Conservative Club sparks controversy

Club disbands after approach to spreading message with anti-Feminist slogans and gun symbols backfires

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Conservative Club sparks controversy

The Young Conservative Club’s posterboard at Club Faire featured images of a rainbow-colored gun with the words “We shoot back” and “Feminism is cancer.”

The Young Conservative Club’s posterboard at Club Faire featured images of a rainbow-colored gun with the words “We shoot back” and “Feminism is cancer.”

Photo courtesy of Justin Buechler

The Young Conservative Club’s posterboard at Club Faire featured images of a rainbow-colored gun with the words “We shoot back” and “Feminism is cancer.”

Photo courtesy of Justin Buechler

Photo courtesy of Justin Buechler

The Young Conservative Club’s posterboard at Club Faire featured images of a rainbow-colored gun with the words “We shoot back” and “Feminism is cancer.”

Josh Iversen and Michelle Wang

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Cal High’s Young Conservatives Club recently disbanded in the midst of controversy among students and staff.

Problems arose last month during the school’s annual Club Faire, when the club’s publicity poster featured an image of a rainbow-colored gun with the words “We shoot back” under it. On the other side of the posterboard the phrase “Feminism is cancer” was printed in large lettering.

The backlash to the club’s poster was swift.

Administrators responded immediately after the Club Faire, contacting club officers and history teacher Tyler Gulyas, who serves as the club adviser.

“Some features of the poster were not very appropriate for school,” said assistant principal Crystal Lopez. “We brought in the club adviser for a discussion.”

Many students not only disagreed with messages on the poster, but also felt offended by the way the posters and ideals YCC were spreading were portrayed.

“I think that people are entitled to their opinion, but when it crosses a line and offends people that’s too much and there’s no place for that here,” said junior Sayeh Jafari, president of Cal’s Feminism Club.

Despite strong negative reactions from Jafari and other students, club members  seemed to be only vocalizing their beliefs, just like many other clubs on campus that deal with social and political issues.

Although Gulyas was not aware of the poster or its content beforehand, it is clear to him that the club was only expressing their beliefs.

“If they want to engage in those debates, as long as they are within school rules, it’s their prerogative,” said Gulyas. “The point of freedom of speech is for people you disagree with, not people you agree with. That’s why we protect freedom of speech. If they gave any indication that they were inciting violence, it’d be a different story.”

That seemed to be the biggest concern with the poster because the image of the gun and the message “We shoot back” does support a violent response.

“My initial reaction was horror,” Gulyas said. “I saw the gun. The gun was what got me. I interpret it as belligerent at least, potentially initiating violent at most.”

A few weeks after the Club Faire, members of the club continued to spark controversy. Some students carried cardboard posters during lunch advocating against Hillary Clinton and attempting to convince classmates not to vote for her.

These students went from table to table in the quad and were heard yelling and hurling insults at classmates. Some students threw food and garbage at them in response.

Lopez pulled the boys aside to talk to them.

“My main question was, what is the point of this signage when almost none of our students can actually vote?” Lopez said. “They are well within their right to say what they want. I was just questioning their motive.”

Following these incidents, Conservative Club President Henry Hodell said he was was called to the office on various occasions because of complaints and accusations from classmates, specifically members of the Feminism Club.

Due to the strong backlash, Hodell said he decided to disband the club.

“It kind of fell apart after Henry stopped taking control,” said junior Colby Watson, a former club officer.

But Jafari was unaware of any accusations made by her club, or even that the YCC was disbanded.

“It’s unfortunate, I think everybody should have a place on campus  where they can band together with people who agree with their beliefs and feel safe to discuss whatever they wanna discuss,” Jafari said. “ I’m sorry that has to happen to the club but if it was something kind of hateful I guess it was kind of coming for them.”

Jafari said her club even offered to stage a debate with the YCC to discuss issues, but no plans were made.

Amidst the recent social issues at Cal, some students are relieved the YCC is no longer a club on campus.

“I am really happy the club disbanded. Between the recent hate graffiti and homophobic graffiti last year on the Day of Silence, the poster and the club are basically adding onto our school’s already divided atmosphere,” said GSA President Saadhanna Deshpande. “We don’t need that for our school right now.”

“In the future, we might possibly come back, but at the moment we’re kind of leaving it alone,” Watson said.