Penn State says Riley Gaines event was never canceled, but emails suggest otherwise

‘No event featuring Riley Gaines has ever been canceled at Penn State,’ the university said Tuesday, Oct. 10.

Erin Grenoble-Clouser, an administrative support assistant at Penn State, sent an email on Sept. 25 saying, ‘We are unable to contract the HUB facilities for your event on October 10th because of competing events and staffing demands.’

The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) issued a statement Tuesday alleging that the Riley Gaines’ event that occurred Tuesday, Oct. 10 had never been canceled, even though emails obtained by Campus Reform indicate otherwise.

“No event featuring Riley Gaines has ever been canceled at Penn State,” the university said Tuesday, according to The university said the campus activist group Turning Point USA (TPUSA) “did not meet the deadline for submitting the required reservation documents.”

[RELATED: University creates administrative nightmare with exorbitant security fees for Riley Gaines event, students claim]

Gaines responded on X, formerly known as Twitter, “I mean do you need confirmation that I was scheduled a room on campus? The cancellation was done after scheduling through Leadership Institute (not campus affiliated group) after TPUSA didn’t meet the deadline. Btw TPUSA DID initially meet the deadline, but the University wouldn’t meet with them until the 30 days prior had passed. I’d be happy to share those communications as well.”

Exclusive emails between the Leadership Institute and Penn State show both parties in September coordinating to host Gaines at Penn State’s HUB-Robeson Center Oct. 10. Gaines, a former NCAA swimmer and 12-time All-American, has dubbed Oct. 10 (10/10) “Real Women’s Day” as the Roman numerals, X/X, are the chromosome pairing of females.

In the back-and-forth emails sent between Sept. 22, the date of LI’s initial venue request, and Sept. 26, Erin Grenoble-Clouser, an administrative support assistant at Penn State’s HUB-Robeson Center, told the Leadership Institute’s Wyatt Wiltse, “This is the only room on this date that is available that can accommodate this amount of people.” Wiltse had just told her that about 175 to 200 students would be attending.

Campus Reform is a project of the Leadership Institute.

Grenoble-Clouser had asked Wiltse on Sept. 25 if he needed a projector and a screen, to which he responded that they would not need these items because they have their own backdrop. Grenoble-Clouser also confirmed that day that a green room would be factored into the cost. Grenoble-Clouser told Wiltse that a signed contract would not be necessary.

Grenoble-Clouser wrote, “Hi – we don’t have a contract. It would just be me making the room reservation for you and emailing you the pricing info. You will then have to email me your insurance certificate and complete an indemnification agreement that I email you. Also, I will need to know how you want the room to be set up – i.e. tables/chairs/audio visual needs.”

Wiltse sent back a signed indemnification agreement and a copy of the insurance certificate.

Grenoble-Clouser asked Wiltse on Sept. 25, “Will you just be having one speaker? Can you tell me who that is? Sorry for SO many separate emails!” He responded on Sept. 25 that Gaines would be the only speaker.

By this point, Wiltse had sent the paperwork and received a $2,775 estimate. Grenoble-Clouser had signed the indemnification agreement confirming that the Leadership Institute would have the venue Oct. 10. Grenoble-Clouser then abruptly told him on Sept. 25, “We are unable to contract the HUB facilities for your event on October 10th because of competing events and staffing demands.”

Sarah Clark, operations manager for the Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, told PennLive, “The facts are, the university has repeatedly denied and blocked efforts to book space for Riley.”

As Campus Reform reported, Penn State’s president, Neeli Bendapudi, said a month prior to the alleged cancellation that as a public university, the school was “bound by the First Amendment.”

“I have no doubt that we will once again encounter speakers that many will consider controversial either because their views are not widely held or because a speaker espouses ideas that are actively hateful,” Bendapudi said in a video released Sept. 11. “I share the concern of those who believe the messages spread by some individuals are not only offensive, but deeply hurtful. And again, I stand in unity with those who condemn such speakers and their rhetoric.”

[RELATED: Riley Gaines: Transgender issues are about the ‘sheer essence of humanity’]

Gaines tweeted, “No way President of Penn State makes a whole video explaining why public institutions are legally obligated to let ‘bigots’ apparently like me on campus to speak then proceeds to CANCEL my speech tomorrow for real women’s day.”

Gaines rose to prominence after speaking about her experience competing against Lia Thomas, formerly known as William Thomas, the first man who won an NCAA swimming title in the women’s category in 2022. Gaines will next speak at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where a campus sorority chapter, Kappa Kappa Gamma, inducted a man, as Campus Reform reported.