YouTube video of UMD diversity debate gains views

Nick Sudheimer

A YouTube video showing an argument between two students outside the Kirby Student Center at the University of Minnesota, Duluth earlier this month has had more than 76,000 views in 6 days.

Gustavus Adolphus College student, Phil Cleary was on the UMD campus passing out pocket constitutions in observance of Constitution Day, representing Youth for Western Civilization and the Leadership Institute. Cleary was to meet with students about organizing chapters on campus when UMD student Blair Jordon Moses approached him.

In the video, which Cleary filmed using a flip camera, Moses tells Cleary that if he threatened the Multicultural Center, he would exercise the Second Amendment – the right to bear arms.

Youth for Western Civilization is a conservative campus youth movement promoting “the revival of Western civilization.” It denounces that “radical multiculturalism” is “the governing ideology of Western universities.”

Cleary declined to send the Duluth News Tribune an unedited copy of the video, saying that the clip on YouTube was the entire video. The version on YouTube is edited with titles and fade outs.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization which tracks such groups such as the Youth for Western Civilization, does not list the group as a hate group but it does have ties to known racist organizations. Heidi Beirich, director of research for the center, told the Duluth News Tribune that the center has “serious concerns about the group.”

UMD’s director of external affairs told the Duluth News Tribune that Cleary’s group has the right to be on campus and to express its opinions, emphasizing that freedom of expression and philosophical debate is part of a university.

Moses has temporarily stepped down from his position as president of the Black Student Association, because of the video. He said that he approached Cleary because other students told him that Cleary was making comments that were racist in tone.

UMD Chancellor Lynn Black sent a statement to faculty, staff and students on Tuesday strongly supporting the value of diversity and the Office of Cultural Diversity and the Multicultural Center. He said that no complaints were received by campus police regarding the incident.

“Because the entirety of the video recorded that day has not been shared with us, it would be imprudent to jump to conclusions about the full exchange between the parties portrayed in the edited video that has been made public,” Black stated.