EXCLUSIVE: UF students plot to silence Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle in leaked messages
- The University of Florida announced Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend and adviser to the Trump campaign Kimberly Guilfoyle would be speaking on campus in early October.
- Students immediately took to social media to complain about the speech, with many planning to hoard tickets for the event.
- A protest has been planned for Thursday, Oct. 10, the day of the event.
The University of Florida (UF) announced Donald Trump Jr., along with his girlfriend and adviser to the Trump campaign Kimberly Guilfoyle, will give a speech on campus through UF Student Government’s ACCENT Speaker’s Bureau.
Student reaction to the announcement compared Trump Jr.’s speech to Richard Spencer’s speech on campus two years ago. Spencer, a noted white nationalist, paid to rent space on UF’s campus for a speech. As a public institution, UF could not prevent Spencer from speaking.
Students on Facebook claimed that by inviting Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle, students were funding “blatant corruption” with their student fees. Many also referred to the pair as “racists.”
In just a few hours after the announcement, students also announced a protest of the event. More than 300 people have marked that they will attend the protest on Facebook, at the time of press. Exclusive images of a private Facebook group obtained by Campus Reform also show that students privately discussed heckling and drowning out Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle’s speech.
Some have suggested hoarding tickets to the event to prevent others from going.
One student, Minh Nguyen, sarcastically wrote “wouldn’t it be terrible if a large group of people reserved these free tickets and then didn’t go so there would be a whole bunch of empty seats? That would really suck if people did that.”
Similarly, Chelsea Dexter called on students to “get in there and drown them out!” UF staff member Cory Watson also called on students to obtain tickets and then throw them away.
In another set of images obtained by Campus Reform, UF College Democrats privately discussed heckling the speech. One member even asked the group whether anyone was “down to get body tackled by Secret Service,” apparently suggesting protesting to the point of getting the attention of Secret Service.
College Democrats signed onto a resolution written by some members of student government that condemns Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle’s speech. The resolution criticizes the pair’s “hateful, bigoted, and offensive beliefs.”
UF’s student newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator, also expressed student frustration to Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle’s speech. An op-ed accused ACCENT of harboring “conservative bias” for speakers, and suggested Trump Jr. should not have been invited to campus because he “has little to sell in the marketplace of ideas” and because “no one would ever mistake him for being an intellectual.” A letter to the editor criticized ACCENT for inviting a “hatemonger,” but offered no explanation of how Trump Jr. fit that description.
ACCENT defended its decision to invite Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle in a statement.
“Both speakers provide varying viewpoints and provide an opportunity for students to engage in thought-provoking dialogue and civil discourse,” the statement read. “At ACCENT, we respect every student's opinion, and part of our mission is to engage the UF campus community in discussions on important issues by bringing prominent, influential, and, oftentimes, controversial speakers to campus.”
UF also issued a statement about the event and welcomed the conservative pair to UF.
“For more than 50 years, ACCENT, the Student Government speakers bureau at the University of Florida, has selected and invited speakers to campus, and the University welcomes those speakers as its guest. Those speakers are paid with student activity fees, which are separate from tuition. This year, the invitation has been extended to Donald Trump, Jr., and Kimberly Guilfoyle and as with their predecessors, we will welcome them to campus.
The school also reiterated its commitment to freedom of expression:
“The University, in its statement on freedom of expression, has committed itself to ensuring that a wide variety of viewpoints are heard on campus as well as to protecting the First Amendment rights of all those in attendance. The University believes it is an essential component of its academic mission to foster an environment where divergent ideas, opinions and philosophies, new and old, can be rigorously discussed and critically evaluated.”
The statement also called for respectful protest that is “civil” and that “does not stifle the open expression of the opposing ideas.”
“Such challenges must not interfere with speakers’ ability to speak or with their audience’s ability to hear the speakers.”
Campus Reform reached out to UF and ACCENT for comment but received no response in time for publication.
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