Controversy Surrounds Meeting Between YAF and Administrators

Claims of ban debunked, origin of administrator quotes remains in question

By Connor Renshaw


“Ripon administrators will not allow the Ripon Young Americans for Freedom to hang the flyers as part of their work to remember the victims of Sept. 11 or other victims of radical Islamist terrorism.”

Young America’s Foundation spokesman Spencer Brown’s made this statement in an Aug. 29 article on the Young America’s Foundation website, while discussing the Young Americans for Freedom’s (YAF) “Never Forget” posters.

Soon it was republished by other conservative websites such as The Daily Wire and The Washington Examiner with many sites claiming the posters had been banned outright.

Ripon College released a statement Aug. 30 on Twitter and Facebook debunking some of the claims made about the school.

Official statement by Ripon College posted on Facebook

“The posters are not and have never been banned,” read the statement. “College officials gave the Ripon College YAF student representatives suggestions as to how to have a discussion about 9/11 this year with our entire campus and community.”

In an email, Brown clarified that the article never explicitly used the word “banned.” Brown said that the administration’s alleged comments during a meeting with Ripon YAF members, specifically that putting their posters up would cause a negative reaction from the student body, “are what I believe led many in the press to close the circle and call the board’s attempted intimidation of the YAF students a ban.”

“Ripon is attempting to save face by claiming the letter of their ruling does not imply the spirit of their ruling would be to keep the posters from being displayed,” Brown said.

According to Melissa Anderson, vice president of marketing and communications, a meeting did occur between Ripon YAF members and Ripon administrators, however the meeting was requested by YAF and did not lead to a “ruling” of any sort.

“The YAF leadership requested that the bias team explain how their poster could be considered biased. That generated a wide-ranging exchange of ideas and perspectives as everyone in the meeting discussed how the poster might be perceived by various audiences, what sort of reactions it is intended to elicit, and whether the poster itself actually meets the goals our YAF students articulated,” Anderson said. “The meeting was not a hearing or a trial, but a conversation, and the quotes in the article were part of that conversation.”

Brown’s article contains multiple quotes that are attributed to unnamed Ripon administrators, who he later identified in an email as Michelle Wittler, Ed Wingenbach, Mark Nicklaus, and Kyonna Henry. Brown said the quotes used in his article were from the meeting between administrators and YAF students and that for questions surrounding attribution “I’ve been suggesting ‘According to a recording of the meeting obtained by Young America’s Foundation…’”

“There may have been a recorder in the room but no college official was aware of it,” Anderson said.

As of yet, no recording of the meeting in question has been released by YAF’s national organization or its local members and the existence of such a recording has not been verified.

Hannah Krueger, president of the Ripon YAF chapter was asked to be interviewed but declined pending permission from YAF’s national organization. As of the time of publishing, YAF national has yet to respond to the request.