Trump event at UCCS stirs controversy

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GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Gage Skidmore
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will speak at 2 p.m. Friday at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' Gallogly Event Center.

Not everyone is happy about it.

In a letter released to the public, Chancellor Pam Shockley- Zalaback noted that, "Many faculty, staff, and students have expressed disappointment and anger at Mr. Trump's appearance on our campus." 

 It should be noted that UCCS, as a public university, cannot refuse to host a political event on the basis of preference for (or distaste for) a candidate. But many faculty at the university have signed on to a protest letter in advance of Trump's event. Both the faculty protest letter and a letter from the Chancellor explaining the decision to host the event are posted below after the jump:

Here is the protest letter:

July 28, 2016

Dear Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak,

With the pending visit of the Republican nominee for President, Donald J. Trump, to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs on Friday July 29, 2016, the signers of this letter, as faculty of UCCS, feel the need to offer a public response to Mr. Trump’s presence on our campus. This letter does not claim to represent all UCCS faculty or the university, only the individuals who have endorsed its message.

To be clear, UCCS is a public university and, as such, it is an institution that reveres free speech. As university faculty, we not only recognize Mr. Trump’s legal right to speak on our campus, but also embrace the productive dialogue about U.S. and global politics that the event will no doubt inspire. But we as faculty similarly have the right and obligation to express our own professional consciences, especially as it pertains to events occurring at our place of work.

While we recognize Mr. Trump’s right to speak at UCCS and at other public venues, we strongly condemn the content and tone of much of the rhetoric that Mr. Trump has used since announcing his bid for Presidency.

Our issues with Mr. Trump are twofold. First, Mr. Trump has repeatedly made public statements that are either not supported by any reasonable amount of empirical evidence or are reliant on selective samples. For instance, Mr. Trump has repeatedly stated that crime in the United States is rising and that we live in a society that is growing more dangerous. A preponderance of evidence at the nationwide level contradicts that claim; but more importantly, Trump then uses such specious reasoning to fuel fear of certain minority groups.

Second, Mr. Trump’s unsubstantiated statements have been used to impugn entire groups of people, including Muslims, Mexicans, women, and disabled people. We contend that his divisive language prevents the kind of civil discourse that is the life blood of a democratic society. Mr. Trump’s claim that the majority of immigrants from Mexico are criminals, including murderers and rapists, is contradicted by documented evidence. Similarly, Mr. Trump’s call for the use of torture would contravene the United Nations Convention against Torture.

Likewise, UCCS’ stance on diversity and inclusiveness states that we “must be inclusive of everyone” in order to combat “legacies of advantage and disadvantage,” which accords with Article 10 of the University of Colorado’s nondiscrimination policy. We honor the spirit of former CU president George Norlin, who took a courageous stand against racial and religious discrimination based on ideals that our university continues to uphold.

We censure any statement made by Mr. Trump (or any other person) that can be classified in these two ways. As faculty of a university that prides itself on the encouragement of free speech and the productive discourse that can follow, we reject the reckless use of language that supports silencing anyone on our campus—even as we respect the right to speak such words.

Signed,
Jeffrey Scholes, Philosophy Jeffrey Montez de Oca, Sociology
Minette Church, Anthropology
Tom Huber, Geography
Katherine Mack, English
Paul Harvey, History
Carole Huber, Geography
Rex Welshon, Philosophy
Edin Mujkic, School of Public Affairs
Christopher Bell, Communication
Abby Ferber, Sociology and WEST
Steve Carter, English
Elizabeth Daniels, Psychology
George Cheney, Communication
Allison Monterrosa, Sociology
Patty Witkowsky, Leadership, Research, &
Foundations
Nick Lee, Sociology
Crystal Baye Herald, English
Spencer Harris, College of Business
Kristin Samuelson, Psychology
Greg Oman, Mathematics
Brandon Gavett, Psychology
Kimberly Holcomb, WEST
Chlesea Lawson, English
Leal Lauderbaugh, Mechanical & Aerospace
Engineering
Daphne Greenwood, Economics
Karen Livesey, Physics
Lissanna Follari, Teaching and Learning
John Adams, Mechanical Engineering
Carlos a. Paz de Araujo, Electrical and Computer
Engineering
Lew Pinson, Computer Science - retired
April Lanotte, UCCSTeach
Michael Calvisi, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Dustin Bluhm, Management; College of Business
Carole Woodall, History and WEST
Kotaro Shoji, Trauma, Health, & Hazards Center
Jarred Bultema, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Jane Rigler, VAPA-Music
Liesl H. Eberhardt, Communication
Eric Eberhardt, Pre-Collegiate, Communication,
Extended Studies
Alexander Soifer, Inter-Departmental Studies
Evan Engle, Education
Leah Davis Witherow, History
Lori Guasta, Sociology
Brandon Vogt, Geography
Abram Minzer, Music
Nina Ellis Frischmann, History
Zachary Mesyan, Mathematics
Kimbra Smith, Anthropology
Lilika A. Belet, Sociology
Haleh Abghari, VAPA
Robert Larkin, Geography and Environmental Studies
Margaret M. Beranek, College of Business
Jamie May, English
Linda K. Watts, Anthropology
Karenleigh A. Overmann, Center for Cognitive
Archaeology
Lauren M. Kinnee, VAPA
Julaine Field, Counseling and Human Services
Michael Kisley, Psychology
Stephany Rose, Women's Ethnic Studies
Rhonda Williams, Counseling and Human Services
Suzanne P. MacAulay, VAPA
Sarah Treschl, English
Margie Oldham, National Student Exchange Program
Suzanne Cook, Languages and Cultures
Sherry Marshall, Sociology
Michaela Steen, Visual and Performing Arts
Valerie Sievers, Nursing
Cerian Gibbes, Geography
Leslie Rapparlie, English
Lesley Ginsberg, English
Sudhanshu Kumar Semwal, Computer Science
Mary Margaret Alvarado, English
Chris Bairn, History
Anthony Cordova, MOSAIC
Mary France, Languages & Cultures
Joan Ray, Professor Emerita, English,
Stephanie Spratt, Kraemer Family Library
Eileen Skahill, Sociology and Humanities
Don Klingner, School of Public Affairs
Heather Albanesi, Sociology
Elizabeth Cutter, Teaching & Learning
Jefferson M. Spicher, Nursing
Fred Lege, Student Health Center
Christine L. Robinson, English
James Parmenter, Mathematics
Janice Gould, Women's & Ethnic Studies
Lisa Durrenberger, Biology
Vanessa Howell, Nursing
Ken Pellow, English
Majid M.J. Arjomandi, Communication
Jared Benson, History and Humanities
Robert Carlson, Mathematics
James Daly, Professor Emeritus Mathematics
Roger L. Martinez, History
Radu Cascaval, Mathematics
David Havlick, Geography and Environmental Studies
Maggie Gaddis, Biology
Manuel Gunther, Computer Science
Leilani Feliciano, PhD, Psychology,
Edie Greene, Psychology
Barbara Prinari, Mathematics
Christina Jimenez, History
Glen Whitehead, VAPA
Mary Jane Sullivan, PhD, Visual and Performing Arts,
Anna Kosloski, School of Public Affairs
Christopher V. Hill, History
Benjamin Syn, English
Stephanie Ryon, School of Public Affairs
Pauline Foss, Visual and Performing Arts
Nanna L. Meyer, Nursing
Leslie Grant, Teaching & Learning
Amy Haines, History
Irina Kopteva, GES



Here is the Chancellor's letter in full: 

Dear Campus Community,

Following the announcement yesterday of Donald Trump's July 29 campaign stop in Colorado Springs using UCCS facilities, I have been asked a series of questions I will attempt to answer in this message. Many faculty, staff, and students have expressed disappointment and anger at Mr. Trump's appearance on our campus. I am appreciative of questions and concerns raised and want to continue to be responsive. Because time is short before the event takes place, I want to address as many issues as I can in one communication.

The Legal Underpinnings of Leasing Space to Political Candidates—UCCS and the vast majority of all public universities make space available for lease (if space if not in use for academic or athletic purposes) to organizations including political organizations. UCCS for most of its 51 years has leased space to organizations including political parties. Because UCCS has made its facilities available to political candidates and their campaigns in the past-provided those campaigns have paid appropriate fees and complied with campus use policies-the university cannot legally deny the same access to Mr. Trump. As your Chancellor, I thoroughly checked our legal standing, as I would do in any such case, prior to authorizing the lease. The same process was used when we were the venue for a campaign event in 2008 by candidate Barack Obama. Simply put, the University of Colorado cannot discriminate against political candidates on the basis of their viewpoints. The First Amendment recognizes that if the university provides the opportunity for political candidates to speak, it cannot deny other political candidates the same opportunity. The lease to Mr. Trump is not an endorsement by me, UCCS, the University of Colorado, or its Board of Regents.

Assessing Charges—Some students have questioned whether UCCS should "make money" by leasing to Mr. Trump's campaign. UCCS consistently assesses charges when any political candidate holds a campaign event. Other types of organizations also reimburse UCCS for event space. With regard to political campaigns, assessing charges prevents UCCS from violating laws that prevent the expenditure of public funds for the benefit of political candidates or showing preference for any political candidate. UCCS will not make a profit from assessing charges but will cover direct expenses.

Hostile Environment Based on Campaign Rhetoric—Some have raised concerns that Mr. Trump's appearance on campus creates a hostile environment in a manner that would violate other federal laws. I have sought legal advice to respond to this inquiry. Political speech, even if that speech is offensive, is protected by the First Amendment and offensive speech does not serve as an adequate basis to deny this campaign or any other campaign the opportunity to rent university facilities.

Campus Safety—Some students have expressed their concern about campus safety, particularly in light of the fact that there have been confrontations at some of Mr. Trump's other campaign events. UCCS leaders, our own excellent police force, local law enforcement, and the United States Secret Service are working to provide appropriate security and ensure campus safety. Campus leaders and I, accompanied by our own police officers, will be highly visible throughout the campus on Friday.

Expressions of Opposing Viewpoints—Many faculty, staff, and students have expressed their desire to demonstrate against Mr. Trump while he is on campus, and others in the community may join in those demonstrations. As a University that respects the ability and right of all citizens to voice their opinions, UCCS absolutely will permit lawful and peaceful demonstrations. No demonstration permits are required. The lawn in front of Cragmor and Main Hall and the lower University Center Plaza are convening sites for such expressions of free speech. As a core value of the University of Colorado, free expressions must be and will be honored. Law enforcement agencies will work to preserve the security for all. I will personally visit both sites multiple times.

Inclusion as a Core UCCS Value—Some have expressed concern that Mr. Trump's visit does not support the UCCS core value of inclusion and respect. This event underscores more than ever the need for inclusion and respect. UCCS has a legal obligation to lease space to Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump has a legal right to speak. Others have a legal right to express disagreement. But this not solely about legal issues. The UCCS core value of inclusion and respect is front and center. This event, or any other event, must not let us waver in our commitment to inclusion and respect for all. I am confident UCCS, its students, faculty, and staff, and our community will approach Friday in a manner that demonstrates our shared commitment to free expression, inclusion, safety, political choice, and the democratic virtues that has served us for generations.

Details of the Event—as of the time of issuing this message Mr. Trump is scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. Those wanting to express opposition to the campaign are asked to gather in either the Cragmor lawn or the lower level of the University Plaza. UCCS is not handling details of ticketing for the event and other information may be available at the Trump website. Those wishing to assist me in providing safe way-finding for our students and others on campus may contact the Chancellor's Office (x3436).

• The University Center Upper Plaza and Upper Plaza east and west access will be closed beginning at 7 a.m. on Friday until mid-afternoon. The Bookstore, Clyde's, the Copy Center and Sanatorium Grounds Coffee will operate normally.

• The Pedestrian Spine walkway through the University Center will be closed most of Friday. Students, faculty and staff who need to traverse from buildings on the east side of campus (Main, Cragmor, Dwire, etc.) to the west side of campus (Columbine, Osborne, Engineering, etc.) will need to find an alternative route.

• Those holding tickets for the Trump event are likely to line up on the pedestrian spine in front of Dwire Hall and Main Hall. Non ticket holders will be directed to the Cragmor Green space or to outdoor space on the first floor of the University Center.

• Parking in lot 222 in front of Centennial Hall will be restricted to media and disability parking. If you normally park in this lot, I ask that you park in another lot or the Parkway Garage. The visitors will be asked to park in the Alpine Valley garage and will pay to do so.

I will be scheduling a campus conversation to discuss the events of Friday, July 29 in a couple of weeks. As always, thank you for your voice in our campus life, thank you for your respect for the importance of the issues of our times, and thank you for participating in important campus challenges and opportunities.

Respectfully, Pam

Pam Shockley-Zalabak
Chancellor

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