University president denounces conservative group after repeated leftist student protests

University of North Texas students have continued to protest a Young Conservatives of Texas speaker event that occurred on Mar. 2.

'We are extremely disappointed in Smatresk's response,' the organization told Campus Reform.

Two weeks after a Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) event at the University of North Texas (UNT) was met with riots and chaos, campus leftists are continuing to demonstrate against conservative voices on campus. 

YCT hosted Texas House candidate Jeff Younger on Mar. 2 to discuss criminalizing child transitioning, a contentious topic in the Lone Star State since Governor Greg Abbott issued an order calling for state agencies to investigate child abuse charges following gender-affirmation surgery.

The event was met with mass protest, with protesters storming the room to scream and spit at Younger as he presented for approximately an hour. Outside, the campus erupted into a riot that led to Younger and the event organizers being evacuated by a police escort.

One of the organizers reported having to hide in a closet after being separated from the police, while Younger alleged to have been punched in the stomach.

Since that incident, outraged protesters have pressured UNT President Neal Smatresk to remove YCT from campus.

While Smatresk originally affirmed his support for freedom of speech, the president has apparently walked back his support.

On Mar. 16, Smatresk released a written statement that acknowledged his meeting with the student protesters and reaffirmed his commitment to the “queer and trans members of the UNT community.”

His support, however, did not extend to students who are a part of the conservative student organization, whose beliefs he called “abhorrent.”

Nearly two weeks earlier, students participated in a Mar. 4 walkout outside the Hurley Administration Building. They donned transgender flags and signs to visualize their outrage to Smatresk

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Students organized again on Mar. 10, upholding a promise to return until their voices were heard. This time, the protesters were greeted by Smatresk, himself, to hear the students’ complaints. Smatresk was accompanied by two other faculty members, as reported by NT Daily.

Smatresk is taking the easy way out of the controversy, according to the UNT YCT chapter. 

”We are extremely disappointed in Smatresk’s response,” the organization told Campus Reform in a statement. “He seems to be making these remarks in order to appease the leftist mob of students at UNT; he’s saying what’s easiest to say, not what really needs to be said.”

To make amends, Smatresk promised in his statement to organize a meeting that will include representatives from the trans community, the UNT Police Department, and the UNT administration, as well as host a “listening session” for all students interested in learning more about the First Amendment and Title IX.

Smatresk further plead his allegiance to the protesting students by assuring that if he “could snap [his] fingers and remove [YCT,] [he] would do it.”

”Do you think I like the actions of YCT, who are taking the reputation of this school and harming it?” Smatresk asked the students.

However, his threat is not all hot air as he later told NT Daily that if YCT “is found guilty of any of the things that I’ve talked about, then YCT will be off our campus.”

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Additionally, the chapter told Campus Reform that the retaliation they have received since the event has set a precedent that is chilling conservative speech.

”After the event, our members are experiencing more hate on campus than anything,” the group said. While former chairman Kelly Neidert seems to be the target of the majority of the harassment, “other conservatives on campus see what happens to her and they become too scared to speak up.”

The attempt to rid the conservative organization is not new but has been an effort among the student body for years. 

In 2020, a petition began to circulate that called for the removal of YCT after the group “trivialized” National Coming Out Day by hosting an event inviting students to “come out” as conservative. The group was also accused of using homophobic language and creating an “unwelcoming environment” by organizing an Affirmative Action bake sale.

At that time, Smatresk assured an investigation would be launched.

Similarly, a petition to expel Neidert, has amassed over 19,400 signatures over a five-month period. The attempt has been unsuccessful.

Campus Reform contacted YCT and UNT for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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