By: Ethan Hollenberger, Conservative Activist
Hundreds of college campuses around the country today are
participating in YAF's 9/11 Never Forget Project. When I chaired
the conservative club at Marquette University, I was honored to
participate and lead the project for several years.
Today, Marquette and other Wisconsin schools are posting 2,977
flags to honor and remember the victims murdered twelve years ago.
During my time on campus, I have seen students both liberal and
conservative post pictures of the display on social media. Every
student is truly impacted.
One Wisconsin school, the University of Wisconsin La Crosse was
called out by the school's Chancellor Joe Gow.
The conservatives at La Crosse put their display into the form
of a cross. Gow felt it necessary to criticize the use of the cross
in an email to the entire faculty and students.
I first reported the controversy at Media Trackers -
UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow emailed the all school's
faculty and students promoting the memorial service. Gow also
questioned the cross amongst the display.
In addition, since receiving Ben's note early this morning I've
been informed that the 9/11 flag display on the UW-L campus has
been constructed in the shape of a cross. Although I'm not sure
what the students who put up the flags are attempting to convey
with this particular design, I also would like to remind everyone
that UW-L is a state and federally supported institution and as
such we do not endorse any particular religion. The divesity(sic)
of views we hold is one of the most basic strengths of our
country-something the terrorists sought to attack on this day 12
years ago. But our principles and spirit remain strong and we are
free to commerate(sic) 9/11 in any manner that we choose today. I
hope you'll join me in doing so.
According to Ben Buehler, the clubs' co-chair, the conservative
students made a cross because they believe, like the founding
fathers, the United States is, "one nation, under God."
Hannah Bresson, a co-chair of the club, tweeted emphatically,
"We are one nation UNDER GOD, indivisible regardless.
A Catholic Priest will be on hand to pray at the memorial.
In an email to me, Ben Buehler noted faith and God plays an
important role in his life. The Chancellor's attack on the club's
First Amendment right is prevalent at many University's today.
The conservative student's remarked on Facebook about the
Chancellor's email, "Unfortunately his comment took away from what
today is about- not bickering about religious symbols, who is right
or wrong- remembering the fallen and honoring our troops."
UW - La Crosse has been posting their flags in a cross formation
since at least 2008.
Just before 3pm Gow sent another email to faculty and
staff linking to the
Media Trackers Wisconsin story.
Gow writes, "Apparently, the e-mail message I sent you all this
morning has now been disseminated more broadly. And it looks like,
in addition to making my usual quota of spelling errors, I am being
misinterpreted with regard to what I said about our university's
inability to endorse any particular religion"
The Chancellor also passes along a redacted email from an UW-LAX
alumni signaling he will stop providing financial
Gow's email to the alumni quotes a
Wall Street Journal article. Gow's entire second email canbe read here.
In an email to me, Gow noted, "I am aware that the cross pattern
has been a feature of the 9/11 display for the past few years. This
fact demonstrates that we have never attempted to restrict the
right of these students to express their views as they desire. This
year I was asked to promote the display and I agreed to do so.
Because I was writing a note to the entire university community I
was careful to explain that a public institution like ours cannot,
and should not, endorse any particular religion."