KSU YESbody! issues apology to Sage Gerard

After Paul Elam and I were made the subject of several angry flyers and posts by KSU students, I learned of a (now closed) GoFundMe campaign funding a protest of Male Students in Peril.

The campaign was branded with a student organization called KSU YESbody!.

Google result KSU Yesbody
Google result crediting KSU YESbody! with campaign
Created by KSU Yesbody
The section of the campaign citing KSU YESbody! as the creator

On the same campaign page, you can see a Tumblr called Menformation (a.k.a. MensRightsInfo) cited in the following language:

we have expresses menformation yesbody

The use of “We” combined with the branding strongly suggests that KSU YESbody! is responsible for Menformation, but it turns out this is not the case. After meeting with the co-presidents of KSU YESbody!, I got the impression that they were trying to distance themselves from confrontations initiated by their more outspoken affiliates. It was these affiliates whom the co-presidents allowed to set up and manage Menformation and the fundraiser.

Given the way these sources were branded, it appears to me that some of the more passionate feminists in the community have essentially spoken through KSU YESbody!, and the co-presidents were not aware of what consequences that would yield. They asked me to meet to discuss YESbody!’s actual involvement, and to invite me to future panels on men’s issues.

I agreed to meet. In the meeting, I suggested that the co-presidents be careful around those who would make hasty character allegations and asked that they use the money I donated to the fundraiser toward the protest (they were seriously considering returning the money). I then agreed to state that Menformation is not an official source of YESbody!, contingent on the fact that the co-presidents make a clear statement that Menformation is not representative of YESbody!’s attitude toward my presence on campus.

The co-presidents issued the following apology on their official Tumblr (with comments inserted by myself):

The YESbody! presidents would like to make it known that the purpose of YESbody! is not to single out any fellow students or to make accusations about anyone’s character which are not supported by proper evidence. We would also like to make it known that there are many individuals participating in our demonstration and supporting our cause who are not members of YESbody!. All those who are participating have various reasons for their involvement and differing opinions about how certain issues should be addressed.

We cannot be held responsible for each individual’s opinions, but we support their rights to those opinions. However, an individual’s opinion is not necessarily representative of our group as a whole. Furthermore, neither the MensRightsInfo blog nor the GoFundMe page are run by YESbody! members.

I’m glad to hear that, but please understand that, again, YESbody!’s brand is smeared over the GoFundMe page, and Menformation is lumped with GoFundMe using the word “We.” I am willing to admit my mistake in suggesting that Menformation is an official YESbody! publication, but it sure was made to look like one.

Though we are grateful for the support of the people who run these forums, we wish to make it clear that YESbody! was not responsible for publicly addressing any feeling of hostility toward Sage Gerard or for criticizing him as a perceived threat or harassing force towards faculty or students.

Regardless of allegations against him, we are unaware of any evidence that he is a threat to students.

Awareness has nothing to do with it. There is no evidence that I am a threat to anyone, full stop.

Of course, we maintain that all are entitled to their opinion and right to free speech, but we ask that members of YESbody! refrain from making allegations against fellow students without proper evidence.

Good. Thank you for bringing this up, but there is one more thing.

You have informed me that flyers posted around campus taking Paul Elam out of context were hand-delivered to YESbody! by unnamed off-campus individuals. To be fair, you mentioned that you were not aware of your own members posting the flyers and that it was possible that other individuals or organizations may have received the flyers.

But that point is moot. I’m not pointing fingers on who posted what. I ultimately reported the foreign flyers to the Student Life department,* who do not want non-students taking advantage of campus space in this way.

Student Life told me that Menformation flyers will be taken down in the future, so further postering of borderline-libelous propaganda will be a wasted effort.

I appreciate your statement to your members, but please be prepared to ask your affiliates to stick to an evidence-based evaluation of character as well.

Student Life is now keeping an eye out for messages by your friends. If I were you, I’d rethink my relationship with loose cannons.

We also ask you to keep in mind that our mission is NOT to promote fear of fellow students due to differing ideologies, but to educate the general public about issues concerning inequality. This means that we may end up collaborating with people who have overlapping concerns but may have a different way of addressing those concerns. These situations are where we must practice what we preach and learn to co-exist.

At the request of Sage Gerard, we will be keeping his donation of $175 and putting it towards our art installation as it has been expressed by Mr. Gerard that it is important to him that we are able to exercise free speech. Once again, we apologize for any attacks either directly or indirectly aimed at Mr. Gerard that were mistakenly sourced to our members and we look forward to possibly collaborating in the future.

Thank you for promising to use my donation for your protest. I’ve already stated that I think the protest is misguided, but I’d much rather you have it than not. I come from a culture that strongly values the promotion of different positions such that scrutiny defeats weak ideas.

I await your invitation to speak on a men’s issues panel. If anything, I’m glad that KSUM helped generate more interest in the conversation.

* Student Life is the department responsible for student organizations.

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