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Student Protesters Defy Threats Of Violence, Support Feminist Presenter

Feminist blogger and pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian decided to cancel a talk planned for Wednesday at Utah State University after threats of mass violence were made to USU from an anonymous source. USU police say there was never an imminent threat, but Sarkeesian decided to cancel the presentation after she discovered the university would be unable to prevent people with legally concealed firearms from entering the event because of Utah’s concealed carry law.

Wednesday, around 40 students at USU took a stand against the threats leveled at Sarkeesian during an afternoon protest.

“[We want] to send a message to not only those making threats but to everyone that feminism is an important issue that we are facing today and freedom of speech is one of our most important rights, that we shouldn’t allow to be coerced because of threats,” said USU graduate student Matthew Staheli, an organizer of the protest.

Staheli said he hopes USU reconsiders how the university addresses threats of violence. The university planned to hold the event despite the threats; however, Sarkeesian said on twitter that she was forced to cancel because security measures were inadequate.

Sarkeesian is no stranger to threats of violence. Her criticism of how women are portrayed in videogames has made her a target, at one point forcing her from her home.

“Threatening to kill someone based on them sharing an opinion is horrendous. We had to send a message back to whoever made these threats that censorship is not an appropriate thing in a university setting,” Staheli said.

The cancellation has sparked conversation about gun laws on Utah campuses.

Police have yet to determine who sent the threats.