Profs rally for colleague who bullied conservative student

Kyle Perisic
Leadership Institute Intern

  • Dozens of University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors and students held a demonstration for "academic freedom" Monday in support of a former lecturer who was reassigned after she harassed conservative students on campus.
  • The demonstration was organized by the American Association of University Professors, which ostensibly advocates for academic freedom generally, but has been accused of favoring liberal causes over conservative ones.
  • 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.

    [RELATED: VIDEO: Profs bully TPUSA prez while she recruits on campus]

    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.

    [RELATED: School 'reassigns' lecturer who bullied conservative student]

    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.

    Schleck is also the President of the Nebraska Conference for the American Associations of University Professors (AAUP), the union that sponsored Monday’s protest.

    [RELATED: CSUF prof allegedly assaults conservative student on campus]

    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.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KyleOnCampus





    Kyle Perisic

    Kyle Perisic

    Leadership Institute Intern

    Kyle Perisic is a Leadership Institute Intern, and reports liberal bias and abuse on college campuses for Campus Reform. He is originally from Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a double major in English and Political Science. While in college, Kyle was a member of various student organizations, worked in government relations, and worked on several political campaigns.

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