ACLU employee slams university for admitting defamed Covington teen Nick Sandmann
- Transylvania University is facing criticism for admitting Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic student who went viral for facing off with a Native American protester in 2019.
- In a Facebook post, an American Civil Liberties Union communications associate expressed outrage over the admission of the “provocateur in training.”
- A Transylvania University assistant professor responded to the ACLU associate’s Facebook post promising to monitor Sandmann’s conduct on campus.
Transylvania University is facing backlash for admitting Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic student who went viral in 2019 for facing off with a Native American protester while wearing a Make America Great Again hat at a 2019 March for Life rally in Washington, D.C.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, American Civil Liberties Union communications associate Samuel Crankshaw expressed outrage over Sandmann’s admission, calling it “a slap in the face": "[Sandmann] clearly is a provocateur in training with no intention of learning."
"Does anyone else think it’s a bit of a stain on Transylvania University for accepting Nick Sandman?" Crankshaw asked. "I’m sure it’s a 'both sides' defense, but it’s pretty counter to their mission and another instance of there not actually being equal sides to an issue. I think TU should accept anyone willing to have an open mind and engage in debate, regardless of their views. That’s how we all learn. That’s Transy’s mission."
However, Crankshaw continued, “[Sandmann] exists only to troll, intimidate and play victim."
Crankshaw warned that Sandmann defended 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who is being charged in the Kenosha shooting but claims he acted in self-defense. Crankshaw also noted that Sandmann spoke at the Republican National Convention.
“He’s no different from the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos, but he is more dangerous,” wrote Crankshaw.
Transylvania University Assistant Professor and Diversity Scholar Avery Tompkins responded to Crankshaw’s post and called Sandmann’s behavior and rhetoric “atrocious and uninformed” and vowed to monitor his conduct on campus.
“If he were to cause problems by being disruptive, trolling, or engaging in unethical behavior of any kind, I would immediately document it (just like I would for any student doing the same thing)," Tomkins wrote.
Sandmann responded to the backlash on Twitter, writing, People like @samuel_crank are what make college campuses a toxic place to be. I have more than enough qualifications to be at Transy and am proud to say I feel I’m treated fairly."
People like @samuel_crank are what make college campuses a toxic place to be.— Nicholas Sandmann (@N1ckSandmann) September 7, 2020
I have more than enough qualifications to be at Transy and am proud to say I feel I’m treated fairly.
Go Pios! https://t.co/vB5CfRPUaf
Crankshaw told Campus Reform, "The views I expressed on my Facebook page are my personal views that I shared on my personal time. I have a First Amendment right to express them just as Nick Sandmann has a First Amendment right to express his. My views do not necessarily reflect the views of my current or past employers. I will continue to express my views on my personal time."
According to Crankshaw's Twitter account, he is an alumnus of Transylvania University and states that the ACLU of Kentucky "def don't endorse this account."
Transylvania spokeswoman Megan Maloney, in a statement to Campus Reform on Tuesday, reiterated the school's commitment to ideological diversity but declined to comment further on this specific matter.
"There are two things that, as a university, we are not able to discuss: our students (without their permission) and personnel matters. In response to posts on social media and other websites over the Labor Day weekend, we reiterate that point. A review of the situation will be conducted expeditiously by the appropriate university officials."
George Washington University Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley weighed in on the matter by writing on his blog, "Recently, the ACLU has abandoned its famed neutrality and has not supported some on the right while supporting those on the left."
"Despite various media organizations correcting the story and some settling with Sandmann, some in the media have continued to attack him. Yet, it is far more alarming to see an ACLU official rallying people against a young man whose chief offense appears to be that he is publicly (and unapologetically) conservative and pro-life," Turley wrote.
Campus Reform reached out to Tomkins, the ACLU of Kentucky, and Sandmann for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
Transylvania University provided the following statement on behalf of Tompkins: "I want to apologize for my mistake in singling out a student and any misunderstandings that arose from that. One of my favorite things about working at a liberal arts institution is that our community has diverse perspectives. Students, faculty, and staff are able to engage in civil discourse with those whose views may be different from their own, and to learn about those views in an academic setting. I value and support these conversations with students, and I know that students value these conversations with their peers as well."
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @JezzamineWolk