Cleveland State University President Ronald Berkman held a forum Wednesday to address the controversial fliers posted on campus this week.
WKYC streamed the forum. Go back and watch it below:
The fliers, which depicted an anti-LGBTQ message, were initially blamed on a campus conservative group called Turning Point USA. That group denies posting the fliers. The words "Fascist Solutions" were printed at the bottom of the fliers. WKYC reached out to that group and received no response.
The fliers included the image of a silhouette hanging from its neck and the phrase "Follow your fellow [expletive]" with statistics regarding LGBTQ suicides.
Berkman drew criticism when he first issued a statement regarding the fliers. In that statement, Berkman failed to condemn the fliers and noted that "CSU also is committed to upholding the First Amendment, even with regard to controversial issues where opinion is divided." He went on to say that "a spirit of inclusiveness will always be central to the very identity of our University."
Berkman issued a follow-up statement Tuesday:
"I wanted to acknowledge that yesterday I failed to express my personal outrage over a recent incident involving an anti-LGBTQ+ poster that was recently posted on campus.While I find the message of this poster reprehensible, the current legal framework regarding free speech makes it difficult to prevent these messages from being disseminated.However, let me make it clear that I am committed to promoting a safe and inclusive campus for all members of our community.I recognize this incident has created significant concern around the campus and invite you to join me and members of my staff tomorrow, October 18 at 2 p.m. in the Main Classroom Auditorium to discuss your concerns."
The story has reached the national news circuit, as Buzzfeed posted this article Tuesday with the headline, "A University President Defended Posters That Encouraged LGBT Students To Kill Themselves."
Some students gathered outside CSU's Main Classroom building to protest prior to the forum Wednesday: