EXCLUSIVE: ‘Uneasy and vulnerable:’ Pitt student pushes back against admin following ‘dangerous’ protest
'I am genuinely considering, as a graduating senior with no finals to take, not stepping back on campus for the rest of the semester.'
Sal Zuber, a conservative student at the University of Pittsburgh, is pushing back against administration and the police department after a recent protest on campus turned violent.
Sal Zuber, a conservative student at the University of Pittsburgh, is pushing back against the administration and the police department after a recent protest on campus turned violent.
The April 18 protest was in response to Michael Knowles and Brad Polumbo’s debate on transgenderism.
What started out as a peaceful assembly quickly turned violent when flares, fires, and an incendiary device were utilized.
— LOGAN DUBIL 🇺🇸 (@thelogandubil) April 19, 2023
Following the events of April 18, Zuber decided to push back by sending multiple members of the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) administration and police department an email of concern, which was obtained by Campus Reform.
“Never before have I felt so uneasy and vulnerable in my life, though every ounce of disturb and distress felt has since turned to determination for resolution,” Zuber wrote in his email.
He continued by calling out Pitt’s Provost Ann E. Cudd and Associate Vice Provost Carla Panzella for “antagonizing students into action that could lead to dangerous situations,” more specifically by sending out emails to the student body that referred to conservative views as “offensive,” “hateful,” and “harmful.”
Overall, Zuber made it clear that he does not feel safe on campus following how the protest was handled by the administration and the police.
“I expect a Pitt Community email disavowing the actions of the mob and an explanation of who was responsible for allowing the mob to stay and continue to be dangerous,” he said,” continuing, “If the University of Pittsburgh will not keep me safe, who will? I am genuinely considering, as a graduating senior with no finals to take, not stepping back on campus for the rest of the semester, though I still have lab work to be done. I would rather take a 0% on my outstanding assignments than put myself into danger in a place where I am forcibly unarmed.”
As of April 21, only one of the eleven administrators responded to Zuber’s concerns, that one person being Executive Communications Specialist Sarina Moore.
Moore told Zuber in her response, also obtained by Campus Reform, that Pitt is “sorry this happened.”
“It is essential to our university’s mission that we maintain an environment that protects free speech and expression as well as the safety of all participants, and there is an ongoing police investigation into the incendiary devices used last evening,” Moore wrote.
Zuber told Campus Reform that Moore’s remarks were “disappointing, though quite expected.”
“Not much to say other than the university would much prefer to hope that my account is unheard and swept under the rug due to their mismanagement of the event’s security and the police’s failure to keep the attendees and staff safe. The poor throwing accuracy of the protesters is all that kept multiple hospital visits from occurring that evening,” Zuber said.
Despite poor experiences with protesters and administrators, Zuber argued that the event itself was an overall success.
“The debate itself was great, I thoroughly enjoyed the speakers’ back and forth. Within the four walls of the building, the event was a success,” he said.
Brad Polumbo, one of the event’s debaters, told Campus Reform that Pitt has “a moral and legal obligation to protect free speech on its campus.”
“If Pitt can’t even condemn the aggression and intimidation that occurred surrounding our debate, it is failing its students and the public,” Polumbo added.
Campus Reform reached out to every individual and institution mentioned for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.
Follow Logan Dubil on Twitter.