As Election Day approaches, College Republicans members in various parts of Wisconsin say they are being attacked based solely on their opinions.
University of Wisconsin College Republicans Chair Erica Christenson said someone in a car representing state Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, allegedly threw a "metal object" at the group's truck during the Homecoming Parade.
Despite the trauma, Christenson said her group has decided to let it go and move on.
"When something like that happens, yes, we are marginalized and dehumanized," she said. "I take the higher road and look away."
Yet in an interview with The Badger Herald Tuesday, Black called Christenson's claims false and said he was the one representing his campaign in the parade. He added the only thing thrown from his car were Tootsie Rolls.
"It's not true — I can assure you it's not true," Black said. "We threw candy generously."
Putting the Black situation aside, Christenson said members of College Republicans are still going on with their day-to-day business, but sometimes still worry about their safety on a historically liberal campus.
Christenson also added conservatives have been characterized by liberals as "evil Republicans" rather than simply people with different opinions.
"They think it's OK to damage our property," Christenson said. "To them, we're not even humans anymore."
Black added though Election Day is approaching, his campaign was simply trying to be friendly at the UW parade.
"Although we disagree with Republicans, we still thought they deserved some Tootsie Rolls," he said.
While Christenson said it can get "very vicious" on campus, to the point where she fears for the safety of her fellow College Republicans, she did note that there are some Democrats willing to sit down and have a serious conversation about politics.
And Madison is not only the only campus where tensions have been running high with the upcoming election. According to UW-La Crosse College Republicans Chair Mike Tellier, a 9/11 memorial the group put together on campus was defamed last month.
"I was able to get 3,000 American flags from veteran groups," Tellier said in an interview. "I get to this flag display, and three big protest signs are there against the war and depicting [President] Bush — crap like that."
Tellier said the harassment did not end there, as people began defaming an online profile by the group commemorating 9/11 with comments like "Where's Osama?" and calling members "douche bags."
Following the recommendations of the university, Tellier said he filed a complaint with the Campus Climate organization on campus, which responded by hosting a town hall meeting.
But at the forum, Tellier said the vandalism was determined to be "speech that appears hateful," not "hate speech."
Tellier said his conservative group is being treated differently than other groups would be if they were in a similar situation.
"If this was a gay group, imagine the publicity and the story this would be," he said. "Since it's a conservative group such as College Republicans, they're not treating it [the same]. It's a double standard."
Christenson said she's bothered by the situation at UW-La Crosse, as well.
"It does not surprise me," she said. "We're attacked continuously on campuses."