UPDATED: University bans golf team from using Trump course because of campaign rhetoric

One of the top golf programs in the country is no longer allowed to practice at the Trump Doral golf course because administrators deemed Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric to be inconsistent with Barry University’s values.

Late last year, Barry University President Sister Linda Bevilacqua, in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Administration, determined that Trump’s campaign rhetoric conflicts with the university’s mission, triggering an automatic severing of relations with all businesses and organizations in which he holds a senior leadership position.

Vice President for Institutional Advancement and External Affairs Sara Herald, who also serves on the Executive Committee, told Campus Reform the decision was not politically motivated, “as we do not take positions relative to candidates,” but rather was based on a policy intended to ensure that Barry remains true to its fundamental values.

“As a practice, Barry University does not engage in business relationships where senior leadership of a company takes a public position, or the company’s guiding principles are, antithetical to the university’s core commitments of Inclusive Community and/or Social Justice,” she explained. “This practice, which has been in place for some time, is not political, as we do not take positions relative to candidates. We seek only to ensure fulfillment of our values through our institutional business related ventures and expenditures.”

She also pointed out that the prohibition does not apply to students or employees in their individual capacities, and that it would not preclude Trump from appearing alongside other candidates in the context of a debate.

Neither the Trump campaign nor the Trump Organization seem to have taken notice of Barry’s boycott, but members of the school’s golf team certainly have. According to several individuals affiliated with the university who spoke with Campus Reform on condition of anonymity, the men’s golf team—which won national championships in 2007, 2013, and 2014—had previously been allowed to practice, free of charge, at the high-quality Trump Doral course three to four times per year, but now must resort to daily-fee courses, putting stress on the team's budget.

“I can tell you that this decision has affected us quite a bit because Doral is one of the nicest courses in Florida, with outstanding practice facilities and the golf courses in the resort are really hard and challenging,” golfer Alberto Bianco told Campus Reform. “They would be ideal for our golf team to practice on because they will provide us with tough playing conditions which we don't find a lot of where we play now.”

Bianco did note that the other courses at which the team practices are also quite nice, which his teammate Nicolas Cavero confirmed, saying, “The decision I thought was a little severe but it really hasn't affected us much.”

In addition to preventing the team from practicing at Trump Doral, the "Trump ban" has also negatively affected recruiting, in that coaches are no longer able to officially represent Barry at an annual junior golf tournament at Trump Doral featuring top prospects from around the world. At the most recent tournament in December, several individuals familiar with the Barry team noticed that while the coaches were present as usual, they were not wearing their customary university gear, making it difficult for the golfers to recognize them and severely inhibiting their recruiting efforts.

This particular instance is merely the latest in a long line of liberal-leaning stances that Barry University’s administration has taken in furtherance of its mission, including some that have garnered national headlines.

In fact, Bevilacqua and her staff have publicly advocated for many controversial policies, including the toleration of an Islamic State club on campus and opening public higher-education to undocumented students.

In 2013, Bevilacqua, along with several of her administrative peers, wrote a letter to Florida’s state legislature pleading for looser immigration laws on college campuses.

“Many of our future bright students came to this country as children and have been unable to take advantage of an American education and contribute to our economy because of their status,” she and her compatriots wrote at the time.

They went on to argue in favor of amnesty for all illegal immigrants in Florida.

Last year, an undercover student working with Project Veritas convinced university officials to allow her to start a “pro-ISIS club” on campus. The club, the student explained, would raise funds on campus to send overseas to members of the Islamic State.

“They are terrorists, but we’re trying to help them. We’re trying to educate them and give them funding so that they don’t have to be impoverished and get involved in acts of violence,” she said.

All three university officials who were interviewed expressed their support for the club.

The student was later suspended for "creation of a hostile environment for members of the university staff." Bevilacqua, as president of a Catholic institution founded by the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1940, denounced her students’ actions as “reprehensible,” but said nothing of her staffers’ support of ISIS.

In 2014, an Imam was invited to campus for an “Interfaith” prayer service on Sept. 11 and led students in a chant of “Allah Akbar.” Bevilacqua acknowledged that the phrase has been co-opted by extremists, yet defended its usage as “fitting” for the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11.

Just last year, Bevilacqua sent a letter (again with several of her fellow administrators) to all Republican presidential candidates leading up to the first GOP debate. In the letter, she and her peers urged all candidates to address climate change and consider the evils of capitalism. They invoked the words of Pope Francis, who had just released his papal encyclical on global warming, and asked their political leaders to acknowledge the “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” as one and the same.

Accordingly, a survey of Barry students revealed that zero percent of the student body identifies as “very conservative,” while 13 percent identifies as “very liberal” and 20 percent as “liberal.”

Follow the authors of this article on Twitter: @FrickePete and @AGockowski

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated since initial publication to include additional information concerning financial and recruiting strains the team now faces because of the ban. 

CORRECTION: The original version of this story stated that the student who filmed the Project Veritas video was suspended for claims of defamation. The article has been updated to reflect that her suspension was actually based on "creation of a hostile environment for members of the university staff."