Brewing Controversy: Fordham University Coffee Shop Under Fire For Barring Students Wearing MAGA Hats

 162px-Fordham_seal250px-A_small_cup_of_coffee.JPGThere is a brewing controversy at Fordham University where students were thrown out of a coffee shop called Rodrigue’s Coffee House simply because they were wearing pro-Trump “Make America Great Again” hats.  The manager of the shop insisted that the hats violated  its “safe space” policy as if being conservative is now a de facto threat to other students.  We recently discussed an increase in such conflicts in coffee shops targeting conservatives and Trump supporters.  In this case, the encounter was captured on tape (below) and raises serious questions about the function of some “safe spaces” and whether it is code for an area protected from conservative views or voices.


The coffee shop is a campus club run by volunteers. However, that does not give student license to abuse other students for their political beliefs or bar them from the premises.  Nevertheless, the irate student tells them to remove the hats and, when they decline to do so, yells at them to leave.  She insists that “I’m protecting our customers … you are wearing hats that completely violate safe space policy. You have to go. ”  She also calls the students fascists and nazis for their support of Trump.

University “safe spaces” have been used as sanctuaries (with “comfort” or “therapy” tents) from conservative speakers. That has led to a criticism that they are a way of universities to marginalize conservative views and convey its disagreement with conservative speakers.  This video would seem to confirm that view in this particular safe space. The manager or worker is clearly indicating that the safe space was meant to keep out such views.

Most safe spaces are committed to preventing forms of prejudice based on homophobia or gender discrimination. This cafe posts such rules but does not state that it is also safe from conservative viewpoints.

The website states:

We do things like coffee and music and movies and love. If you like or want any of those things, stop on by. We’re located between Alumni Court South and Queen’s Court. Also, we’re entirely student run. It’s pretty rad.

RODRIGUE’S STRIVES TO BE A SAFER SPACE ON FORDHAM’S CAMPUS. We welcome diversity and we encourage all those participating in the Rodrigue’s community to express themselves creatively and respectfully. As such, we urge everyone in the space to be aware of their own identity, and considerate of the personhood of their peers.

For these reasons, consider the following:

Do not make assumptions about someone’s gender, sexuality, race, class, or experiences.
Be aware of the ways in which your words and actions impact others.

Be aware of the boundaries of others’ space, physical or otherwise, and respect their consent.

No racism – No sexism – No homophobia

However, it also adds the caveat:


Please understand that the above list is by no means exhaustive; these are only basic guidelines to help foster a safer space and a more inclusive community in Rodrigue’s. Ideas and actions that intend to violate any of the above are not welcome.

If you feel that someone has transgressed this policy, we want you to feel comfortable confronting them or approaching a member behind the counter, who is available as a resource to assist you. It is the responsibility of every Rodrigue’s member to ensure that this policy is enforced.

If political views are now part of this non-exhaustive list, the university needs to reexamine the conditions for such student groups to receive university support.  The position of the cafe worker is antithetical to the principles of any institution of higher learning.  Barring students for their political views in the name of tolerance or “safety” does not alter the fact that the shop is engaging in the intolerant censorship of speech.

That is hardly a testament to diversity in lattes or learning.

52 thoughts on “Brewing Controversy: Fordham University Coffee Shop Under Fire For Barring Students Wearing MAGA Hats”

  1. I’m saddened that universities have made conservatives and even opposing ideas persona non grata. College used to be a time for expanding your world view, not provincialism.

  2. Rodrigue’s Coffee House Incident
    From: Fordham University
    To: KeithLabella
    Date: Tue, Dec 12, 2017 3:50 pm
    Dear Members of the Fordham Family,

    By now many of you have heard about the verbal altercation that occurred last week between members of the College Republicans and the student staff at Rodrigue’s Coffee House at Rose Hill. The University has launched an investigation into the incident to better understand what happened and what can be learned from the altercation. Our Student Affairs staff will certainly counsel the students involved on how to better manage such situations in the future. Whether any students are subject to the conduct process will depend on the outcome of the investigation.

    Several bloggers and a few news outlets have seized upon the Rodrigue’s student’s use of the term “safe space” to describe the coffee house, and derided them for doing so. I want to clarify that the University does not have a safe space policy, nor any policy that excludes members of the Fordham community from any public space on campus on the basis of their political views. Having said that, I must say that I believe that Fordham itself should be a safe space—safe in the sense that it is and must remain a place where all of the members of the University community are free to share their opinions, and to have those opinions respectfully tested by their peers. Thus, Fordham must be safe in the sense that, no matter how grave our disagreements or differences may be with regard to politics, all of the discussions surrounding those differences must be considerate and civil.

    Rather than try to shield students from the world’s sharp edges, I hope and believe that a Fordham education can and should make them more resilient and better prepared—intellectually, morally, and spiritually—to engage the world on their own terms. I want to say this, as well: I have heard and seen hateful rhetoric aimed at both sides in this dispute, including rhetoric from members of the Fordham community. This is wrong. If your aim is to have your ideas prevail, name calling and cheap provocations will not enable you to achieve that goal. If you write or speak to wound, you are not in touch with the better angels of your nature. Moreover, you should know that such a way of proceeding not only hurts your intended target but also damages your own credibility. To speak hatefully—to provoke, to cause pain—is not what we teach, espouse, or value at Fordham. It is not a sign of leadership. It is not, to put it mildly, in line with the Gospel. That kind of speech has no place at a university (and especially not at a Jesuit university) nor in a democracy.

    Finally, I ask everyone to remember that those involved in this situation are students; first and foremost they are here to learn, and they may make mistakes. Therefore, as painful and unnerving as this moment has been and is, I hope and pray that both they and we can all learn from it. I also pray that what we have been through will lead us to reaffirm who and what we believe ourselves to be: members of a community that is marked by and committed to mutual respect, reverence, and affection. Therefore, I ask that, whatever your view of the incident or the students’ intent, you try to approach their actions with compassion. I promise that an understanding response will be better for all of us, including the students.


    Joseph M. McShane, S.J.
    Fordham University

    1. PeaceFrog – the President’s response is very measured. I can buy this response.

  3. I have ZERO problem with Rodrigez’s policy.

    While it is stupid, self contradictory, intolerant and illogical – they are free to be stupid, self contradictory intolerant and illogical.

    But the freedom to be stupid. self-contradictory, intolerant and illogical belongs to everyone else too.
    It belongs to the westboro baptist church, and to Masterpeice Cakeshop.

    The Masterpeice cakeshop case should be decided in the bakers favor – not because of freedom or religion, or freedom of expression, but freedom of association.

    The Rodrigez coffee shop is free to be discriminatory and bigotted, as are we all.

    If we do not like their choices – rather than running to the state and federal govenrment for protection, we should protest and boycott.

    I would not buy cakes from Mr. Phillips and I would not buy coffee from Rodrigez coffee shop.

    If enough people share that view, both will fail.
    Otherwise each can be its own “safe space” for its own form of bigotry.

    1. Whether or not you agree with Rodriguez you should be able to differentiate his beliefs from prejudice. He was willing to sell his off the shelf product, but not willing to use his intellectual property to create a product that was against what he believed. There is nothing wrong with that. There is something wrong with the lack of tolerance afforded to Rodriguez. One can boycott him, but that only demonstrates an intolerance on the boycotter’s part.

      Think of Rodriguez in the time frame of Michaelangelo. Did anyone have the right to force him to paint the Sistine Chapel? In fact, if one looks at some of the artwork done by great masters that were forced to do it in a way contrary to what they believed one sometimes was left with an impolite artistic message not understood by the one who commissioned the piece.

      I think today we should learn that force is something that should be avoided when possible.

  4. One matter I cannot stand is to see weak-minded individuals parroting rhetoric and conforming willingly to whatever they are told. A rational person would in seeing these hats will recognize this as just being a hat having words and it has nothing to do with the customer giving money to support the establishment. What is the greater threat–hats or no customers?

    1. What better place than a coffee shop to talk things over and see if one can’t develop an understanding? That embarrassment known as a student with a little power has demonstrated nothing but pure unadulterated and uneducated hate. She is a failure before she even starts on her adult life.

      1. Hopefully, this will be a learning experience that will open her mind. Sometimes failure can be just the wedge in the door one needs.

        1. On this blog today we hear older leftist voices that are in this girl’s future. Stupidity and arrogance.

  5. Consider the following: When you’re down to a few loyal customers have them help pay your rent.

  6. This is simply one more example of why I oppose the entire concept of “safe spaces.” Indeed, “safe spaces” are contrary to the very idea of a university.

    1. The only safe space anyone needs is the place where law prevails over its antithesis. That bad piece of ground looks more and more like college campuses.

  7. These temper tantrums are getting SO tiresome! Almost makes me want to wear a MAGA hat – and I did not vote for him!!!

    1. What is wrong with Make America Great Again?

      By the way, after 8 years of the Obama administration where ISIS was called the JV team and it metastasized all over the world, under Trump Isis is now gone from Iraq. I think that plus a GDP growth of over 3% and unemployment way down where Hispanic unemployment is the lowest recorded the President deserves some accolades.

        1. Loathing the ruination of our government is loving the country and looking to repair it, Not hating it.

          Our institutions are our families, our communities, our churches, our civic groups, our businesses.
          The places we CHOOSE to come together to improve ourselves and others.
          They are VOLUNTARY.

          Those few necescary institutions that are not voluntary require constant vigilance, and certainly not our love.

          1. Your “ruination” is another person’s making it great again. Markets up, military respected, ISIS on the run, illegals out, borders maintained and those few liberals not facing sexual harassment charges are looking like whiny losers to me. Ain’t freedom grand!

        2. Not one country in history hasn’t had its problems and its warts. In their loathing, some make believe they are trying to improve the nation. They have the mind of a dictator always wishing to impose their will on others. When will these people ever learn that destroying a country that has been the best super-power ever isn’t improving or loving the country? It’s destructive ranting of ill-educated people.

    1. She says “Do not try to outsmart me.” She has already been outsmarted by the fascists on the left.The amount of intolerance demonstrated is astounding.

      1. “Do not try to outsmart me”
        It’s impossible not to given her level of stupidity.

  8. Definition of fascism (Merriam Webster)-: “a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and FORCIBLE SUPPRESSION OF OPPOSITION.” Maybe this girl needs to stop cutting class and do her homework b/c she’s just one more shining example of the truth in the saying “tis better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”.

  9. Hmmm, perhaps the Colorado baker, Jack Phillips should have used the Safe Space defense instead of religious liberty. The Left seems to understand emotional argumentation far better than reason.

    1. Olly, interesting twist while you demonstrate the vapid emotional responsiveness of the left where reason doesn’t exist.

  10. The school is a federalist society lap dog. Daniel C. Richman, Comey’s law professor friend, was a professor of mine at the Law School. To me, this just proves that there are two governments vying for power, one elected by the people, and one that asserts it’s supremacy through deep state, rogue tactics.

  11. Safe spaces are only for antifaduh’s on break and other forms of progressively regressive socialist trash.Book burners also welcome.

  12. The intolerance of the left is seen everywhere including this blog. Their intolerance is only matched by their ignorance.

  13. While I sympathize with fear of headware such as clowns and the pope hat etc., I haven’t seen any statistics on people killed by seeing hats. I suspect it is a low figure.

    Still, seeing a MAGA hat is pretty terrifying! What to do, what to do? Perhaps setting up a playpen with pacifiers and comforting toys would help?

    Has it ever occurred to these frightened people that they could actually talk to someone wearing a MAGA hat and perhaps, even make friends with them? The impulse to control others runs very great in this society. It’s why we have a police state and why so few people really object to it. Mostly, people simply copy actual members of the police state. It’s very scary.

    On the up side, it’s definitely a new idea for a money maker movie to be distributed to students-“Hats that Kill”! Never mind reefer madness, hats are the real menace!

    1. Great comment. There is a burger joint on Kauai that sells hats reading “We cheat tourists, drunks, and attorneys”. Given that I fall into all three categories when visiting Kauai, I had to buy one. If you wear the hat when you come back, you get free soda with your meal.

      1. Such wit. Yet, in using your other alias you pride yourself as commanding a vast intellect and foists many accomplishments in college. At least in the other alias you can properly spell articles correctly. Used here, you just make yourself look illiterate and in the process garner much ridicule from others.

        Just give it up and stop embarrassing yourself.

        1. It would be nice if people would consistently respond with one name or alias. Those that require more than one are only proving that what they have to say is of little value. Sometimes one might need to alter the name because of a computer mishap, but that only needs to be temporary and one can just slightly change their name so the new alias is identifiable.

          Apparently, what we are learning is that ken is acting stupid, but the truth is that his alter ego is probably even more stupid even if listed accomplishments exist.

  14. Violates freedom of speech, could not be clearer. There is case law on this. Geez, who is teaching these snowflakes?

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