ND Representative Joshua Boschee comments on posts made by North Dakota State University students
A leaked North Dakota Young Republican (NDYR) group chat revealed racial, ethnic and homophobic slurs. The chat was revealed by Fargo Forum reporter Rob Port on August 19. Since the release, organizations including the North Dakota GOP (NDGOP) and NDSU have released statements condemning the behavior.
The group had over 100 members, some of whom are household names in North Dakota politics. According to the Bismarck Tribune, several members of the Young Republicans are sitting legislators and legislative candidates.
Fargo Forum writer Rob Port received screenshots of messages sent on Telegram. According to the Fargo Forum, Port screenshots represented several weeks of messages from the group sent to the NDYR group.
The group mentioned State Representative Joshua Boschee, who is openly gay and works for LGBT advocacy in North Dakota. According to the Fargo Forum, a response from a user named Matt Evans describes Boschee as a “degenerate clown”.
“I hope the leaders of this organization are thinking and thinking about their organization’s goals and how they can do a better job of making sure they are more inclusive,” Boschee said.
Other comments from the group were sent by NDSU College Republicans President Ben Schirrick, such as “I just went through a fag festival.” He later said that using the insult was “probably the least triggering thing” he will do this year.
NDSU President David Cook released a statement in response to the leaked group chat messages. He said “NDSU values an inclusive and collegial community and these comments do not reflect our NDSU values.”
According to the Fargo Forum, Scherrick was unabashed and said, “It was a private conversation. Hate speech is freedom of expression.
“You can use whatever language you want, that’s the beauty of living in America and North Dakota, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences,” Boschee said. “Our free speech protections are limited to our interactions with the government.”
Boschee explained that the harmful language is not helpful and only shows the true colors of those involved. Both the state Republican Party and the Democratic-NPL Party condemned the group chat posts, according to the Bismarck Tribune.
NDSU has experienced other instances of hate speech on campus. In 2020, a Snapchat group revealed racist content. The students staged a protest on campus to urge the NDSU administration to take action against those responsible for the messages. The students also staged a protest to end hatred against Asian Americans.
“I think we not only have to have individual reflection, but also group conversations,” Boschee said.