ON MARCH 30, 2001, The College of New Jersey went into full crisis mode. Classes between 12:30 and 2 PM were cancelled for an emergency campus-wide meeting to address a burning issue on campus – namely a series of threats made against a member of GUTS – the Gay Union of Trenton State at The College of New Jersey.
The event was dramatic. Poetry was read. Tears were shed. A professor “shocked” the campus by coming out of the closet.
In the shadows stood Edward Drago, Treasurer and executive board member of GUTS. Drago’s name would soon become famous, in connection with the rash of anti-gay threats – but not for the reason you would think.
Four years earlier, I founded the College Republican chapter at the College (at the time known as Trenton State College). From the onset, the group was met with resistance from the Administration. Posting privileges were restricted – a flier announcing the topic of our first meeting, “Are the Clinton’s Criminals?” was rejected outright for being too controversial. Fliers that were finally approved were frequently defaced and removed.
Letters submitted to the editor of the campus paper critical of “Coming Out Day” (a sham where all students wearing JEANS on that day are assumed to be openly supportive of gay issues – as if jeans are a departure from the usual kilts most students wear), were also rejected outright.
Despite the hurdles and limited funding, we quickly became one of the most powerful groups on campus. Within two years, College Republicans controlled the executive board and chairmanship of the Student Government, and held four seats on the Student Finance Board.
TCNJ is a fairly open and safe place. There are the occasional pranks, but nothing even bordering on “hate crime.” Each year, there are the predictable occurrences: A swastika is scribbled on a wall, someone prints up a KKK flyer, or a nasty letter is left for the gay union or other minority groups – commonplace events whenever you assemble 10,000 young adults and have them live together in Attica-style housing during the most stressful years of their lives.
Being a vocal group, College Republicans were often singled out as the perpetrators of these sparse pranks. As modern campus logic equates conservatism with cross burning, it should come as no surprise that many of us spent time in a room with the campus Thought Police, inquiring as to our knowledge of certain events. Often, authorities were “anonymously tipped” that CR’s were involved. Nothing ever panned out, and with good reason.
After graduation, I moved to Washington, DC to work at the Heritage Foundation. Through the campus newspaper’s Web site. I stayed up to speed on the goings-on at the College. News of death threats made against Ed Drago, a vocal homosexual provocateur on campus, caught my attention. I called a friend in the Administration who gave me the details.
As he put it, the student came home from classes and found a threat taped to his door. On his insistence, he was assigned personal security guards. The Gay Union organized speakers and media campaigns. Fliers stating “Out is In” or “Don’t Assume I’m Straight” were plastered on every inch of bulletin board space. Cries for investigations were made from senior faculty and staff. Drago was interviewed for articles in major newspapers. In the lecture halls, science and literature gave way to hour-long discussions of “acceptance” and “understanding.”
Again, suspicions ran high, and College Republicans were questioned. A high-ranking Student Government official and College Republican was questioned at length – and given a warning that he was being “watched closely.” While visiting campus, and although I was no longer enrolled, a senior administration official and a police officer asked me (on separate occasions) if I had any knowledge of what had happened.
The great outcry for justice culminated in the campus-wide meeting. Students were pressured to attend – many professors made it a mandatory event. Ed Drago, a sympathetic victim of hate which most people assumed had been spurred by conservative campus activists, looked on at the mass of students and faculty assembled to show their support.
And now we know it was all a lie.
In a desperate attempt to gain some publicity, Drago fabricated the entire tale. There were no threats. There was no conspiracy against gay students. There was only Ed Drago and his demented notions of right and wrong. And there was GUTS, destroying whatever credibility they ever had.
The College of New Jersey is more concerned with turning out cookie-cutter liberals than it is with turning out academics. It instills in students the notion that you should not only have the right to speak freely, but the right to be heard, understood, believed, and accepted at face value. Like many other desperate leftists, Ed Drago realized that the “message” of GUTS was falling on deaf ears, and decided that since he was being ignored, he would force everyone to pay attention by any means necessary. There are only so many Rainbow buttons and pink triangles you can see before you start to ignore it.
For more on fake hate crimes, click here.