Pitt chancellor, faculty president accuse conservative speakers of 'extremely problematic,' ‘hate-filled rhetoric'

Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd published the statement in opposition to three conservative events on Pitt’s campus.

'I want to emphatically state that hate-filled rhetoric is not what our community stands for,' Cudd wrote.

The University of Pittsburgh’s (Pitt) Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd recently released a statement in opposition to three scheduled conservative events on campus. 

The statement in question is in reference to conservatives Cabot Phillips, Riley Gaines, and Michael Knowles’ appearances at Pitt. Phillips and Gaines were invited by Pitt’s TPUSA chapter, and Knowles is being hosted by the Pitt College Republicans.

The statement begins by affirming Pitt’s commitment to “principles of protected speech and expression” and “free and open inquiry and academic discourse,” but quickly shifts to calling out the speakers for spreading “hate-filled rhetoric.”

[RELATED: Trans activists aim to shut down Cabot Phillips, Michael Knowles, and ‘Save Women’s Sports’ events at Pitt]

“While some community members have called on Pitt to cancel these events, it is important to remember that registered independent student organizations are permitted to invite outside speakers of their choosing to campus if they follow University guidelines and the law. Also, use of Pitt property by a student organization does not mean that Pitt endorses the event or the speaker’s expressed viewpoint,” the statement reads in part. 

Senior Vice Chancellor Chudd then writes, “I want to emphatically state that hate-filled rhetoric is not what our community stands for. I stand for—and with—all Pitt community members, including our trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community members. I affirm not only their right to exist and thrive, but also value their vibrant contributions to our academic community.”

Some Pitt students, however, were not satisfied with Cudd’s recommitment to the LGBTQ community.

“B******t, cowardly statement,” one apparent student tweeted, “[Pitt] cares about the white privileged students and white privileged students only.”

Another user referred to Cudd’s statement as “triggering,” commenting, “The provost ... says in her very triggering mass email that Michael Knowles called transgender identity false. This is vastly understated. Michael Knowles called for the eradication of trans people. Hate speech is not free speech and does not belong on or off campus.”

During his 2023 CPAC speech, Knowles called for the eradication of the ideology of transgenderism, not the eradication of trans people. 

On top of Cudd’s statement, the school’s Faculty Assembly, led by President Robin Kear, held a meeting to discuss the upcoming “anti-trans” event.

President Kear told faculty members in attendance that the conservative events are “extremely problematic,” according to The Pitt News, urging members to take part in counter-events. 

“We can continue to support our trans community, our LGBTQIA+ community and others,” Kear reportedly said. “There are many counter positive events happening in parallel around the time of these events. I urge you to consider taking part in a positive response.” 

Kear is also a member of Pitt’s Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program

[RELATED: University of North Carolina eliminates DEI statements for faculty, students]

Lili Orozco, president of Pitt’s TPUSA chapter, questioned why Cudd was focused on the leftist students when it has been her chapter receiving hatred.

“Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E Cudd stated that she stands for all, and even though she stands for all, where is our statement about all of the hateful speech we get and our concern with safety[?]” Orozco said when asked for comment by Campus Reform.

“Do we have to start a petition to be heard and acknowledge that the other side is actually bringing more hate to our community than these three events are?” Orozco added.

The petition Orozco mentions is highlighted in Campus Reform’s previous coverage of the Pitt speaker saga, in which a petition to cancel all three events for being transphobic has garnered over 10,000 signatures. 

Orozco also mentioned that despite the backlash from students on campus, Pitt has remained supportive in ensuring that the speaking events will go as planned.

“I am beyond pleased with the university for supporting us even though they might not agree with us, but we have not shown any signs of violence or hatred,” she said. 

Campus Reform reached out to every individual and institution mentioned for comment. This article will be updated accordingly. 

Follow Logan Dubil on Twitter.