Republican Club holds rally against Radical Student Union

By Nick Bush, Collegian staff and Nick Bush

Brian Tedder, Collegian
Brian Tedder, Collegian

The University of Massachusetts Republican Club held a rally on the front steps of the Student Union yesterday, in response to what the club has called a “pornographic” brochure posted outside the Radical Student Union’s (RSU) office.

The poster, a cartoon intended to promote safe sex, depicts two men engaging in sexual relations in an illustration.

The speech was interrupted on numerous occasions by counter-demonstrators, who at various points yelled out criticisms in response to the statements by the Republican Club president Brad DeFlumeri.

Of the 75-100 people in attendance, many appeared to react negatively to the Republican Club’s speakers.

In his speech, DeFlumeri said he received “numerous complaints” about the “unambiguous sexual activity” in the posters.

“These disturbing pictures of male genitalia represent sexual harassment,” said DeFlumeri. “The Radical Student Union is hiding behind the promotion of safe sex to push forward its own agenda.”

Counter-demonstrators walked through the crowd as DeFlumeri spoke, holding up pictures of DeFlumeri’s “gynecologist” Halloween costume, as well as distributing copies of news stories documenting recent sexual harassment allegations against the president.

At one point a couple of students threw condoms at the stage, provoking DeFlumeri to motion to the police officers present to act, which they declined to do.

“Keep your pornography out of our Student Union,” said Republican Club speaker Alana Goodman, echoing the sentiments of DeFlumeri.

“Like Whitey Bulger, the RSU is using intimidation,” said speaker Ed Cutting at the rally. “There is no difference being gay in 1958 and being in the Republican Club in 2008.”

“I had to come. I feel like Brad has very little credibility right now,” said UMass student Allison Marshall. “The Republican Club has been derecognized by the [Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans]… Last time I checked, the RSU is an actual, legitimate club. They should post what they want on their walls. College campuses should be about embracing free speech.”

According to the RSU, the issue with the posters is free speech, and the group has refused to remove them. Instead, the club has reacted by posting even more copies of the controversial brochure on their walls.

“We are trying to promote open sexual identities,” said Nathan Lane, a member of the RSU. “This is [DeFlumeri] trying to take away attention from his own problems.”

According to a press release from the administration Thursday, the University has “directed that the brochure in question be removed.”

“The brochure depicts sexual acts in a graphic manner, and it may be offensive to people who encounter it,” said UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski in the press release. “The brochure, which promotes safe sex, can be viewed inside the office and distributed from there.”

DeFlumeri said when interviewed following the rally that he expects the posters to come down by 5 p.m. Friday, citing sources in the administration.

“It’s a clear-cut free speech issue,” said RSU member Alex Peterkin to the Collegian on Wednesday. “We’re not taking the posters down.”

Nick Bush can be reached at [email protected]