As Nebraska state senators, we have some questions concerning the University of Nebraska-Lincoln regarding recent developments with second-year UNL 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 derogatory term for promiscuous white women.
English professor Amanda Gailey also protested against Ms. 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 Ms. Mullen to move her table to a “free speech zone.”
* Question No. 2: Are university administrators warm, welcoming, inviting and transparent toward conservative students?
University 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 Ms. Mullen on Monday, Oct. 23. Chancellor Green asked Ms. Mullen to meet privately with him and his staff and that no recording of the session would be permitted.
Ms. Mullen was asked to meet with Chancellor Green, 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, Ms. Mullen brought her 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, Ms. Mullen said she was told that no disciplinary action whatsoever had been taken against Gailey or Lawton. Chancellor Green has said one employee was disciplined, but the nature of it was a personnel matter that couldn't be discussed.
Furthermore, Chancellor Green played a videotape of the incident to Ms. Mullen, which was mysteriously missing a 10-minute interval when, according to Ms. Mullen, Professor Amanda Gailey had protested against her with a sign. Chancellor Green said the camera was on a preset schedule to automatically point to a new location near the Nebraska Union.
* Question No. 4: Can anyone at the university tell the truth about free speech zones on campus?
Back 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 changed his statement.
When 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, Chancellor Green told Ms. Mullen during the Oct. 23 meeting that the “free speech zone” was for visitors to the campus, such as street preachers.
* Question #5: Does anyone teach English anymore at UNL?
The homepage for UNL's English Department advertises its core values as pursuing social justice, affirming diversity, engaging with a broad array of real and imagined communities based on empathetic understanding, fostering a sense of belonging and 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 UNL English Department proudly displays several political posters in its home, Andrews Hall. One such poster says, "Nothing in this country can mean anything without admitting it was founded on betrayal," though Green said no such poster was seen.
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, Chancellor Ronnie Green 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 Nebraska state senators, we have justifiable reasons to be concerned about the social condition and discriminatory actions of our state’s flagship university.