O’Brien: Bigotry and Hate Make a Confusing and Farcical Return to Campus

On Monday, students rallied together to counter-protest a group of individuals promoting homophobic and racist ideology. Owen O'Brien shares his thoughts on the event. - Multimedia Editor / Alex Rossen

Aden Rusfeldt, who goes by “Pastor Aden,” runs the Key of David Christian Center in Philadelphia. He has made a habit of coming to college campuses and spreading his group’s message, with the clear intent of provoking the student body. 

Rusfeldt usually gives each campus about a 24-hour notice before his arrival, and creates a logistical and a public relations nightmare for whoever unfortunate to hosts his parasitic brigade. 

A report in the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that, in 2006, his investment company was sued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Texas for defrauding his clients. According to his own recent estimation, he still owes $5 million in damages. 

Rusfeldt and his crew parked themselves behind the Campbell Library, where public safety spared no expense in outfitting the area with fencing and officers. They assured that the man would face as little resistance as humanly possible in carrying out his mission. 

The hateful rhetoric was drowned out by students carrying cardboard signs, loud music, and chants of “love, not hate.” The one and only “Rowan Spider-Man” also made an appearance. The visitors were given free reign to call groups of students, many of them open members of the LGBTQ+ community, slurs and other vague insults regarding their sexuality. 

A man whose intentions are actively hostile to the well being of the university was well within his right to turn to a Black student, and tell him his people are going to hell for sagging their pants and listening to “gangsta rap.” The racist tirade also included a command to “be grateful that us whites set the slaves free.” 

One of Rusfeldt’s signs carried a message that he often repeated verbally; “Sluts deserve to be raped.” After crying that specific Rowan University students deserved to be victims of sexual assault, he was allowed to continue his event for another hour, eventually packing up as counter-protesters fizzled out. 

Students can rest easy, knowing that there’s nothing anyone in a position of authority can do. Thank you, “freedom of speech.” Tolerating this kind of abuse is necessary to the function of a healthy learning environment. 

This message lands on a community page that states that if a student or faculty member  informed a female Prof that she would go to hell for being a “thot,” disciplinary action would be taken. 

The community also has a full understanding of the fact that, if a stranger walked on campus, unaffiliated with any broader agenda, and said similar things, that person would be dealt with in the “appropriate” manner by campus security.

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