LAWRENCE, Kan. — One University of Kansas student says her right to free speech is being violated.
Sophomore Katherine Lauer’s social media post of a conservative political message has her in hot water, as another KU student accused her of promoting racism.
Lauer said she has a right to post her feelings on social media, and her sorority needs to respect that.
She told FOX4 she’s on probation with her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, after retweeting a post created by conservative political pundit Candace Owens. Owens’ post condemns the Black Lives Matter movement as being racist.
Lauer shared that post on Sept. 23. Lauer said it was Monday when she was ordered to seek training by Theta’s diversity and inclusion committee, and her social media posts would be monitored.
“I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me and thank me. I’ve really made a lot of friends because of it,” Lauer said Wednesday.
Lauer and her sister, Grace Lauer, said they both retweeted the Owens post in effort to encourage people to reconsider their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Owens’ post questions where the money being raised for the social justice movement is being spent.
“We want to show we do support people — all people. I think that’s what we were trying to do, and it was kind of misinterpreted,” Grace Lauer said.
“My post itself, I don’t feel is racist. I was calling on the Black Lives Matter movement, trying to add some clarity to the situation and trying to shine some light on that,” Katherine Lauer said.
Katherine Lauer said there’s nothing in the Kappa Alpha Theta bylaws that prohibits her from retweeting a political commentary. Lauer also said one sorority sister complained to her that the tweet was offensive to her.
“I wanted to challenge people to look into the organizations they support and look into why they support them and what they actually stand for,” Katherine Lauer said.
A statement from Betsy Corridan, Kappa Alpha Theta’s CEO, said members will be held accountable for statements that are found to be offensive to others.
Grace Redding, a KU student who founded the nonprofit Strip Your Letters, said she believes the Thetas have the right to punish members who they feel cast a negative light on the sorority. Strip Your Letters, according to Redding, encourages the Panhellenic community to be more inclusive and to subscribe to progressive causes.
“(The Owens tweet) is a position that comes from a lack of education,” Redding said. “For us to say (Black Lives Matter) is the racist movement and they’re the ones who are being harmed is a little misinformed.”
Katherine Lauer said she hopes to be welcomed back into the sorority and that her quest for free speech isn’t misconstrued.
A spokesperson for the University of Kansas said sororities act as private entities entrusted to discipline their members.