We have some questions concerning the University of Nebraska. We have come into these questions because of recent developments with UNL sophomore student and Turning Point USA recruiter, Kaitlyn Mullen.
Question No. 1: Are professors at UNL hostile toward conservative students? On Aug. 25 English Department graduate assistant Courtney Lawton protested in front of Kaitlyn Mullen’s recruitment table for Turning Point USA with a sign, labeling her as a neo-fascist and verbally assaulting her as a “Becky,” a racist term for sexually loose white women. UNL English Professor Amanda Gailey also protested against Mullen with a sign, demanding her name be added to Turning Point USA’s professor watch list. Meanwhile, another unknown employee of the university asked Mullen to move her table to a “free speech zone.”
Question No. 2: Are university administrators warm, welcoming, inviting and transparent towards conservative students? UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green conducted a full-scale investigation of the Aug. 25 incident and set up a meeting to report the university’s findings to Mullen on Oct. 23. Chancellor Green asked Mullen to meet privately with him and his staff and that no recording of the session would be permitted. Mullen was asked to meet with the chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor, Donde Plowman, Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Laurie Bellows, and Chief of Staff William Nunez. That’s a ratio of four college administrators to one undergraduate student. Feeling outnumbered and intimidated, Mullen insisted on bringing her own attorney to the meeting.
Question No. 3: Can the university’s administration conduct an honest investigation when a conservative student is involved? During the Oct. 23 meeting, it was reported to Mullen that no disciplinary action whatsoever had been taken against Gailey and Lawton. Furthermore, the chancellor Green played a video tape of the incident to Mullen, which was mysteriously missing a 10-minute interval when, according to Mullen, Gailey had protested against her with a sign. Green’s explanation for the missing segment was that the camera suddenly stopped filming in that particular location and jumped to another area of the campus.
Question No. 4 Can anyone at the university tell the truth about free speech zones on campus? In August university spokesman Steve Smith told the Daily Nebraskan, UNL’s student newspaper, that the “free speech zone” is “the space between the Nebraska Union and the Canfield Administration Building.” He later retracted his statement. When University President Hank Bounds was interviewed by Coby Mach on Sept. 25 on KLIN radio, he denied the existence of any “free speech zones” on campus. However, the chancellor during the Oct. 23 meeting that the “free speech zone” was for visitors to the campus, such as street preachers.
Question No. 5: Does anyone teach English anymore at UNL? The homepage for the English Department at UNL, advertises its core values as: 1) Pursuing social justice, 2) Affirming diversity, 3) Engaging with a broad array of real and imagined communities based on empathetic understanding, 4) Fostering a sense of belonging, and 5) Instilling a desire for civic engagement. Strangely missing from these core values are traditional English department words such as “classic literature studies,” “writing,” “poetry,” “fiction,” “grammar,” and “novel.” Instead, the English department at UNL proudly displays several political posters in the department. One such poster says, “Nothing in this country can mean anything without admitting it was founded on betrayal.” The English department has proudly condemned President Trump’s executive order to suspend immigrant travel and it has recently reiterated its support for the LGBTQA community. When asked if he was aware of the contents of the English department’s webpage, the chancellor said he was unaware of it. Most disturbing, though, is the fact that the English department’s webpage is missing anything which even remotely resembles a traditional English education.
As you can see, as state senators we have justifiable reasons to be concerned about the social condition and discriminatory actions of our state’s flagship university.