Trump supporters 'not welcome,' says new UCF 'Diversity Chair'
Conservative students say the newly-appointed “Diversity Chair” for the University of Central Florida’s student government has a history of hostility toward Donald Trump supporters.
According to Knight News, Grayson Lanza was confirmed to the position by the Student Government Association on June 22, prompting some conservative students to object that he was approved despite repeatedly expressing a desire to rid campus of conservatives.
"And let today be a lesson to all; Trump supporters are not welcome on our campus."
“And let today be a lesson to all; Trump supporters are not welcome on our campus,” Grayson declared in a Facebook post on October 31, referencing a pro-Trump rally held at UCF.
UCF student Daniel Hanna claims that Grayson was even more explicit in person when the two had an encounter during the rally.
Hanna told Campus Reform that he and several friends “were having a good time waving Trump flags and such” at the rally on UCF’s “free speech lawn” when Lanza and several other students began taunting them with phrases such as “racist” and “sexist.”
Describing the behavior as “very aggressive,” Hanna recalled that Lanza “said multiple times that we were not welcome on campus and that he does not tolerate us.”
“When we started debating politics, I eventually said you know the great thing about this country is we can both differ regarding political views but we can openly discuss it,” Hanna related in an interview with Knight News. “Then I offered him a handshake. He said I’m not shaking your hand, I do not tolerate you and you are not welcome here.”
Hanna argued that the altercation should disqualify Lanza from serving as Diversity Chair, saying that while he does not care if the position is held by someone “equally liberal,” as long as it doesn’t go to someone “who has been actively aggressive towards people who disagree with him.”
“That is the antithesis of diversity,” Hanna declared. “You can talk about diversity of skin color, religion, and sexuality all you want. But diversity of thought is a real thing too, and if you’re just disregarding people who disagree with you, and you just want them off campus, what’s the point?”
Lanza was approved for the position of Diversity and Outreach Coordinator by the SGA Senate in a 19-6-0 vote, even though just weeks earlier the same body had denied the appointment of Karis Lockhart for the SGA Governmental Affairs position, which Lockhart believes was directly related to her former role as Chairwomen of the College Republicans at UCF.
“The Senate body clearly didn’t care about qualifications, they only cared about the ‘R’ behind my name. They do not want diversity, they just want one thought process—liberal leaning policies only,” Lockhart told Campus Reform. “The student Senate didn’t approve me because of my affiliation with the Republican Party and their lack of ability to look past party politics and look at a qualified candidate ready to serve the students of UCF.”
According to Lockhart, her experience leading the CR organization, as well as her activity in Florida politics more broadly, made her “the most qualified person for this position,” but when she was interviewed during the confirmation process, senators were more interested in her opinions on things like “sanctuary campuses” and whether she would disaffiliate from the Republican Party if she were to take the position.
Complaining that such questions “are out of line and have nothing to do with the duties of my position,” Lockhart questioned why similar objections were not leveled at Lanza.
“Diversity doesn’t only pertain to skin color, religion, and gender,” she noted. “It also pertains to diversity of thought, and Grayson has proven both in writing and in person that he cannot tolerate opinions of others if they do not align with his.”
Campus Reform attempted to contact Grayson Lanza and the UCF Student Government, but did not receive a response.
UPDATE: Following Campus Reform's original coverage of this story, Lanza has officially resigned his position as Diversity Chair.
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