College Conservative President Silenced on WeAreFGCU During Election Week

Carly Gugel, Contributing Writer

An FGCU student is speaking out after the university temporarily denied his access to the Instagram account, “WeAreFGCU,” after he shared his political affiliation. The account, which has 9,700 followers, was created for students to share their campus involvements on a platform directed to the FGCU community. 

College Conservatives President Matthew Boggan was granted access to host the account. The content posted by Boggan caused concern among some students at the university.

“There were certain comments and direct messages sent to that account threatening me and harassing me, which were taken down due to violation of FGCU policies,” Boggan said.

FGCU conducted a review of the account after receiving a complaint to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance that cited recent posts included partisan activity, according to University Communications and Media Relations Coordinator Pamela McCabe. All activity from the page was archived, or temporarily hidden from public view. No posts were deleted. 

Along with sharing his involvement with College Conservatives, Boggan posted about a Conservative Political Action Committee event he attended. He also shared his association with Student Government, Lutgert College of Business, Osprey Hall Area Council, University Ambassadors, Best Buddies, being a legislative intern, Honors College and Chabad. His content was not solely about his presidential position within College Conservatives.

After the account was reviewed, FGCU granted remote access back to Boggan. He was asked to send pictures and captions to an employee, who would then upload them to the account. 

“All they said was that the review demonstrated three posts, including highlighting partisan activity, political campaign signage, apparel and attendance at political events,” Boggan said.

According to Boggan, FGCU officials encourage constructive and informed discussions on campus in a peaceful manner, even when people disagree or find an individual’s expression offensive or controversial. 

After the university revoked his access, Boggan chose to speak out because the previous College Conservatives president, Elaina Cosentino, was able to post the same content he posted. 

“I think it’s important that every single person has the ability to share their viewpoints,” Boggan said.

The FGCU College Conservatives Instagram account posted a statement defending Boggan, which led to arguments within the comment section. 

“We are enraged that FGCU deleted all of his posts due to being a conservative. FGCU then silenced the public by disabling comments when people questioned why the account was under review…Unfortunately, FGCU does not uphold diversity of thought,” the statement read. 

Amanda Klein, an FGCU alumna, was one of the commenters who voiced her concerns.

“[Matthew] kept deleting my comments,” Klein said. “Eventually, I was blocked on the page and voiced my concerns with the FGCU account directly.” 

With the election season heating up, Klein said she felt that it was unnecessary for the university to showcase Boggan and his political views. 

“I thought it was very inappropriate for FGCU to allow someone so heavily involved in politics do a takeover of the WeAreFGCU page during the week before elections,” Klein said. 

The account is now under operation of the social media team within University Marketing & Communications. All content for the account will be reviewed to ensure the content is consistent with university policies and Florida Statutes, according to McCabe.

Boggan has since ended his hosting of the account on Nov. 14.