University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh police are investigating a death threat against the school's College Republicans chair.
Nate Nelson received an e-mailed death threat last month, the day after attending a political rally on campus. The e-mail threatened both Nelson's life and the life of his wife, Kelly.
The threat came after Nelson had notified police that organizers of the rally were in violation of meeting codes established on campus.
"My initial reaction [to the threat] was shock," Nelson told The Badger Herald. "I didn't think people would go that far."
According to Nelson, the threat said, "Quit with your political bullshit before I kill you and your wife," and had to be taken very seriously, prompting him to notify police.
"If it was just about me, that would have been one thing, but the fact that it was about my wife meant I had to take the threat seriously," Nelson said. "My family is the most important thing to me."
According to a news release from the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program, a conservative organization, Nelson said he was pointed out and heckled by some students at the rally, which was comprised of about 60 attendees.
"It was a rights rally regarding voting," Nelson said. "In my opinion it turned into conservative bashing."
The death threat came a day after Nelson notified police that the rally violated meeting laws specifically governing noise-amplification equipment. The state currently requires demonstrators to have a permit when using any type of noise-amplification equipment.
"We didn't take any official action," said Mike Melland, chief of police at UW-Oshkosh. "The department told them that they couldn't use the sound amplifying equipment without permission on a UW campus."
The organizers of the rally did not have the required permit, and soon after police arrived, the rally ended.
The e-mailed death threat, which came a day after the rally, puts a negative spin on campus political discussion, Nelson said.
"I think political discourse is a wonderful thing, and it shocks me that people go to these extremes," he added.
Because the investigation is ongoing, Melland was unable to comment about the specifics of the case.
The rally was sponsored by several organizations including The Rainbow Alliance for Hope, Campus Greens and Students for a Fair Wisconsin. Much of the demonstration was devoted to criticism of the proposed same-sex marriage amendment, which would ban civil unions and same-sex marriages if approved by the public on Election Day, Nov. 7.
Nelson also serves as a senator in the Oshkosh Student Association and writes for Life & Liberty News, a conservative student paper.
While incidents of death threats have not been a problem at UW-Madison recently, the College Republicans group here has reported a degree of marginalization based on the group members' political views.
According to UW-Madison College Republicans Chair Erica Christenson, the group had a metal object thrown at them from a car representing Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, at UW's Homecoming Parade. According to Christenson, the incident "dehumanized" them.
No police report was filed, and Black vehemently denied the allegation.