A coalition of progressive student activist groups at Arizona State University (ASU) is calling for the expulsion of Kyle Rittenhouse, who has recently expressed interest in continuing his education there in person.
After being cleared of all charges against him after shooting and killing two men and injuring another in self-defense at an August 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Rittenhouse revealed in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that he now wants to “just go on with my life as a normal 18-year-old kid attending college” and be free from harassment.
“I am in college. I’m a student at Arizona State University,” he told Carlson, adding that he would like to live on campus and study either nursing or law.
“I don’t know for sure yet, but I do intend on going in campus and pursuing a career in nursing,” he said. “I’ve been looking into law. I may want to become a lawyer. I haven’t completely decided yet, but I want to be a nurse, so I’ve been doing the prerequisites for that.”
Rittenhouse enrolled in a non-degree-seeking online nursing program starting on Oct. 13, a few weeks before his trial began, reported student newspaper The State Press, citing an ASU spokesperson. The program doesn’t require applicants to go through the typical admissions process, but allows them to use the classes they take as prerequisite credits to later apply for admission to the university’s nursing school.
Despite Rittenhouse being an online student taking non-degree courses, the mere possibility that he may attend ASU in person has sparked an outrage among the campus left. Progressive groups such as MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán), Students for Socialism, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition announced that they would gather and protest on Dec. 1 to “get murderer Kyle Rittenhouse off [the] campus.”
“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,” reads a statement posted by the groups to Instagram.
Specifically, the groups demand that ASU withdraw Rittenhouse’s enrollment, issue a statement condemning “white supremacy” and declaring Rittenhouse a “racist murderer,” reaffirm that ASU Multicultural Center is a “safe space from white supremacy,” and “redirect” funding from campus police to the Center.
Meanwhile, the ASU chapter of College Republican United (CRU) continues its support for Rittenhouse. According to the national organization’s website, CRU donated more than $14,000 for Rittenhouse’s attorney fees and they are now raising funds to help Rittenhouse “sue the media for malpractice, libel, and defamation.”
“[The ASU] should suspend the student org and individuals involved in this harassment campaign against the student,” the ASU Republicans wrote on Twitter.
Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, wrote in favor of Rittenhouse. “The fact is that Rittenhouse cannot be expelled or kept off campus due to such mob measures. He would quickly prevail in court.”
Turley also drew similarities between the anti-Rittenhouse movement and an earlier attempt to block Nick Sandmann from attending Transylvania University in his home state of Kentucky, noting that false narratives pushed by the media played a role in both incidents.
The January 2019 encounter between Sandmann and Native American activist Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial gained national attention after extensive media coverage based on a short video, in which Sandman appeared to be “smirking” at Philips, while his MAGA-hat-wearing friends from Covington Catholic High School chanted and cheered in mockery. Longer video footage that emerged later shows that the Covington students were on the receiving end of racist verbal attacks from a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, and it was Phillips who approached Sandmann and beat a drum within inches of the young man’s face.
In an op-ed in Daily Mail, Sandmann encouraged Rittenhouse to take legal action on legacy news outlets for defamation. Sandmann himself sued CNN, The Washington Post, and NBC Universal in 2019 for $800 million in damages. He settled with CNN and the Post in 2020 for undisclosed amounts.
“This is the problem with liberal media outlets in the United States,” Sandmann wrote. “They want to get the story first, get the most views, make the most money, and advance the agenda from liberal patrons. These outlets cover themselves when they are wrong with small footnotes at the ends of long articles, clarifying that new information has come out and that they have updated their coverage.”