UF claims students showed 'civility and tolerance' at Trump Jr. event...but video tells a different story
But UF praised students for their “civility” and “tolerance” and claimed the event proceeded “without disruption.”
Protesters at the University of Florida disrupted an event featuring Donald Trump Jr. and former Fox News commentator Kimberly Guilfoyle.
When asked about the apparent contradiction, a UF spokesman admitted to Campus Reform, "there was disruption."
Hundreds of students protested Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle at the University of Florida on Thursday, and several dozen who entered the venue attempted to shout over the couple for the entirety of the event.
Protesters yelled expletives at the pair, causing several disruptions throughout the speech. Trump and Guilfoyle’s supporters often responded with chants of “U-S-A.” At least one student was seen leaving the event when security approached her after she stood up during the speech.
The event, which was protested by hundreds, according to student paper The Independent Florida Alligator, was hosted by UF’s Accent Speakers Bureau. UF issued a statement praising the protesters for exemplifying “civility and tolerance.”
“At a time when we face challenges with civil discourse, students at the University of Florida exemplified civility and tolerance this evening,” the statement read. “Despite intense disagreement among students over the invited speaker, the event proceeded without disruption. Groups representing all viewpoints had their say outside the venue without incident, while inside the venue audience members showed both their support and their opposition without disruption.”
UF also added that protesters reflected “the highest ideals of free speech.”
“Their commitment to expressing their passionately held beliefs, while honoring the right of others to do the same without fear or interference, reflects the highest ideals of free speech and of our university.”
UF is facing backlash from conservative organizations for its statement.
The Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter at UF issued a response saying that UF’s statement was a “demonstrable lie.”
“Our entire core membership, as well as Young Americans for Freedom and College Republicans, witnessed a heckler’s veto the entire night,” the statement read. “Had it not been for spirited patriots who applauded the speakers’ positive message, the night would have been ruined for everyone.”
The group also accused UF of failing to enforce the student-run speaker bureau’s guidelines for the event.
Accent Speakers Bureau’s guidelines state that “disruptive behavior, that materially or substantially impedes the normal progress of the event, will not be permitted and will result in ejection from the event.”
The guidelines also specifically state that disruptive behavior would include “noise, obstruction or other behavior that materially or substantially interferes with the speaker’s presentation or an attendee’s ability to hear or see the presentation.”
“Protesters continuously disrupted the speakers and the University did not fulfill their obligation to enforce the rules of respect. Protesters slandered Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle with names like ‘white supremacist,’ ‘racist,’ and other disgusting names,” the TPUSA statement added. “We’re thankful to Accent Speakers Bureau for bringing Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, but the University’s pathetic, dishonest statement once again proves the bias against free speech for conservatives on campus.”
A report in the student newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator, also confirms the presence of hecklers.
According to the Alligator, plans for a Q&A were scrubbed when organizers feared that protesters would hijack the microphones.
Outside the venue, protesters marched with signs and bullhorns hours before the speech. Many continued protesting during the event, as well.
Shortly before the event started, protesters began yelling at TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk, who also attended the event. In a video filmed by Campus Reform, protesters can be heard yelling “f*ck you, Charlie” as Kirk stood outside the venue.
Campus Reform reached out to UF for further comment and clarification. UF spokesman Steven Orlando responded by acknowledging that "there was disruption."
"You're right, there was disruption at the event, but in the end those who went to hear the speakers were able to do so, and the speakers were able to complete their program in its entirety. We do indeed set the expectation of behavior and civil discourse, and we reiterated those expectations repeatedly prior to the beginning of the event. Several members of the audience who were repeatedly disruptive were asked to leave, and they did so voluntarily," Orlando said.
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