Members of the Matthew 24 group appeared on West Chester University’s campus three times between April 12 and April 18. With an orange barricade and university police officers surrounding them on the academic quad, protesters made their claims to students who watched from the sidelines. Many of the claims surrounded religious beliefs, including abortion, sexual orientation and Islamophobia.
“They’re not answering anyone’s questions, except for with an insult,” said Robert Main, assistant professor of philosophy. “They don’t want to engage in any debate.”
University police were keeping a close eye on the academic quad when Matthew 24 came to campus. With every appearance by Matthew 24, Chief of Police Michael Bicking insists that neither he, nor any of the university’s police officers, want to arrest any students unless they have grounds to do so.
“I’m not convinced that they’re looking to engage into a debate. They’re looking more to just give their message, and they don’t really care what our message is or what your message is,” said Bicking.
Students also mentioned witnessing a woman involved with Matthew 24, presumably “Pastor Aden’s” wife, approach a student and nudge them in the throat with her sign. Junior Casey Tobias witnessed this ordeal and says that university police did not take action because the student presumed to be assaulted did not want action taken.
“She loudly called him a ‘fag’ and shortly after jabbed the corner of her sign into what looked like his throat,” Tobias said.
These members of Matthew 24, spearheaded by a man who goes by “Pastor Aden,” appear frequently on college campuses like Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, Bucks County Community College and the Community College of Philadelphia. From previous appearances, many students and faculty gather that these demonstration tactics are used to get onlookers to react in such a way that Matthew 24 can file a lawsuit against the institution they are visiting.
Matthew 24’s “Pastor Aden,” whose full name is Aden Rusfeldt, has faced multiple allegations of fraud. Most recently, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed suit against him to pay “more than $3.2 million in Restitution and Civil Monetary Penalty for Fraudulent Omissions in Connection with his Operation of ETF Trend Trading.”
Students were utilizing the other half of the academic quad to sunbathe and play with frisbees. One student mentioned her professor brought her dog, who was sporting a “Come Pet Me!” sign to divert students from arguing with the demonstrators.
The reaction from students in comparison to January and April were vastly different: less crowds and fewer riled-up students.
“Everybody knows at this point that they’re not who they say they are,” said junior Lauren Boyd.
Samantha Mineroff is a third-year student majoring in English writings track wth a minor in creative writing. She can be reached at SM825021@wcupa.edu.
Sunny Morgan is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at SM848270@wcupa.edu. Her Twitter is @SunnyMorgan97.