Profs rally for colleague who bullied conservative student
Graduate teaching assistant Courtney Lawton expressing her opinion of Turning Point USA
About 50 University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors and students protested Monday for 40 minutes in support of a lecturer who bullied a conservative student over her political views.
The university relieved Courtney Lawton, a graduate student instructor, from her teaching duties after she flipped off and bullied the president of the school’s Turning Point USA chapter, Katie Mullen, while she was recruiting on campus.
"Our expectations for civility were not met by the lecturer in her behavior."
An administrator even insisted that Mullen had to leave the premises until campus police showed up and affirmed her right to stay. Later, after the bullying became too much and Mullen was harassed to the point of tears, the officers escorted her to safety.
Lawton was subsequently reassigned to non-teaching duties, which both she and Donde Plowman, UNL’s executive vice chancellor, ascribed to “safety concerns.”
According to The Scottsbluff Star Herald, one of the signs at Monday’s rally read, “Academic Freedom is Democracy,” and the protesters made it clear throughout that their concern was for academic freedom, though the original incident with Mullen took place outside of the classroom on school grounds.
Conversely, in a statement released on September 7, UNL spokesperson Steve Smith wrote, “Our expectations for civility were not met by the lecturer in her behavior...and not representative of a university where the robust free exchange of ideas takes place 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
According to Mullen, at least three professors were harassing her TPUSA club members and accusing them of being Nazis, specifically naming Amanda Gailey and Julia Schleck.
Even though the incident took place at the university, English professor Fran Kaye told the Star Herald that Lawton was acting as a private citizen at the time and so was the student, though Kaye added that she personally would not have flipped off the student.
Nebraska State Senator Steve Erdman expressed a different interpretation in a recent op-ed, calling for both Amanda Gailey and Courtney Lawton to be fired. Erdman wrote,
“Gailey berated and intimidated Kaitlyn Mullen, a sophomore student at UNL, as she quietly manned her recruitment table,” Erdman wrote, adding that “Professor Gailey’s behavior was immoral, unprofessional and unacceptable.”
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