WATCH: Students protest free speech event at SUNY Oswego

Students protested Speech First Executive Director Cherise Trump during an Apr. 5 event at the State University of New York at Oswego.

Before Trump’s arrival, a DEI officer led a conversation with students to discuss their grievances, including 'that Trump’s presence ... brought into question the safety of the LGBTQ community.'

A record number of students protested Speech First Executive Director Cherise Trump during an event at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego.

The university’s College Republicans hosted Trump on Apr. 5, according to an article in the student newspaper, The Oswegonian. Speech First describes itself as an organization that “protect[s] students’ free speech rights on campus” with “advocacy, litigation, and education.”

Ahead of Trump’s arrival, The Oswegonian reported a meeting of multiple student organizations to discuss their grievances, including “that Trump’s presence on campus brought into question the safety of the LGBTQ community and people of color.”

A DEI officer facilitated the conversation. 

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Wayne Westervelt, the university’s Chief Communication Officer, told Campus Reform that “SUNY Oswego remains committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive, equitable society where all are welcome, all are accepted, and all are able to thrive.”

“The university,” he continues, “supports civil discourse, assembly and debate on our campus, and continues to encourage all members of the community to remain dedicated to freedom of speech and an open and respectful academic climate.”

Students advertised the Trump protest over social media. 

“[W]e’re advocating that racist, homophobic, [and] transphobic remarks are not free speech and hate speech should not be protected,” a post obtained by Campus Reform reads. 

College Republicans President Abigayle Jordal told Campus Reform that the number of protesters was the most that Trump has seen at one of her events. 

They were definitely heard,” she writes. “[H]owever, we are not going to be silenced because our voices need to be heard as well.” 

In a video obtained by Campus Reform, protesters are seen holding pride flags and signs reading “F**K YOU,” “PROTECT TRANS LIVES,” and “NO MORE HATE SPEECH ON CAMPUS.” 

Leadership Institute (LI) regional field coordinator Autumn Elkins attended the event, where protesters reportedly taunted her and blocked her from filming. 

The Leadership Institute is the parent organization of Campus Reform.

Elkins says that the protest was not effective. “The more effective dialogue would have been staying [in] the room and talking to Cherise Trump as she invited them to do,” she told Campus Reform

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Though she has no relation to former President Donald Trump, Cherise Trump has received backlash because of her last name. One university asked her to purchase insurance in the event that student protesters associated her with the former president, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). 

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.