ELVIA DIAZ

Student demands to kick Kyle Rittenhouse out of ASU are ridiculous and dangerous

Opinion: Kyle Rittenhouse is a free man. He should be allowed to keep taking online classes at Arizona State University if he wants, not booted because some students don't like him.

Elvia Díaz
Arizona Republic
Kyle Rittenhouse testifies during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.

Kyle Rittenhouse is a free man and should be allowed to keep taking online classes at Arizona State University if he wants.

I trust ASU President Michael Crow won’t cave to the ridiculous demands of some left-leaning students who want Rittenhouse kicked out and funding redirected from campus police to a multicultural center.

The students’ anger over Rittenhouse’s acquittal on all charges is justified. I, too, hated the jury’s decision to free him despite the undisputed fact that he killed two men and injured a third one during a 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wis.

Politicians, pundits and civil rights leaders have also denounced the acquittal as unjust, pointing to a broken legal and court system that has historically favored white people over minorities.

But the jury spoke. Anyone who doesn’t like that outcome must direct their anger at fixing the broken system, not at ASU, which sees education as part of the rehabilitation process and a way to help people who’ve been incarcerated.

What danger would Rittenhouse pose online?

Kick Rittenhouse out and the whole idea of giving people a second chance is out the window, too. 

Is that what the students calling for his ouster really want? In their view, Rittenhouse is guilty as charged regardless of the jury’s decision.  

“Even with a not-guilty verdict from a flawed ‘justice’ system – Kyle Rittenhouse is still guilty to his victims and the families of those victims,” read the demand statement posted on Twitter. “Join us to demand from ASU that those demands be met to protect students from a violent blood-thirsty murderer.”

The college groups, reportedly also representing Students for Socialism, Students for Justice in Palestine and Multicultural Solidarity Coalition, want ASU to “reaffirm support for the multicultural center on campus as a safe space from White Supremacy."

Let’s be real. What physical danger would Rittenhouse pose to campus students if he’s enrolled in online classes thousands of miles away?  

Would Rittenhouse really go back to take online classes now that he’s a celebrity of sorts as the Republicans’ new mascot?

As it turns out, Rittenhouse doesn’t appear to be interested in enrolling at ASU – not now, anyway. The university confirmed that he’s no longer taking online courses.  

ASU should offer second chances and free thought

None of that matters, of course. These students demanding his ouster clearly want to tell the world that their message and ideology should be supreme over everyone else.

Let me be clear again. I’m no fan of Rittenhouse. I have written that he had no business bringing and carrying a semi-automatic rifle to the protest that August night. In my view, he should be behind bars.

But, again, the jury spoke, and the jury’s decision has nothing to do with ASU’s noble mission to give everyone a second chance.

ASU spokesperson Jay Thorne has told The Arizona Republic the university doesn’t ask questions about criminal history in the admissions process or for online enrollment.

That means that even if Rittenhouse had been imprisoned, he still could take online classes, depending on the internet at the prison facility and their rules, Thorne has said.

Rittenhouse is a free man. He can enroll if he so chooses.

But ASU’s decision not to ask questions about criminal history also is important. It gives a second chance to all those who – for whatever reason – ended up on the wrong side of the law.

Not to mention that colleges and universities should remain the bastions of free thinking, free speech, debate and the exchange of ideas – as ugly and disgusting as we may find some of those ideas.

Elvia Díaz is an editorial columnist for The Republic and azcentral. Reach her at 602-444-8606 or elvia.diaz@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter, @elviadiaz1

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