EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Congressman pays campus visit after conservatives taunted, disrupted
The president called the incidents an “aberration” of what actually happens at a university that has a “very broad perspective on views.”
U.S. Rep Tom Reed recently met with the president of Binghamton in light of multiple recent incidents of conservative events being shut down by leftist students.
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) paid a visit to the president of Binghamton University to advocate for conservative students who were taunted by leftists while trying to table on campus in fall 2019, just days before a large group of students shut down a speech by economist Art Laffer.
In the meeting with various conservative students who were involved in both incidents, as well as university president Harvey Stenger, Reed said that he hopes to act as a “conduit” for a productive conversation around viewpoint inclusivity.”
Campus Reform obtained exclusive audio of the meeting.
“As an elected official representing the 23rd congressional district and to see a gentleman like Art Laffer handled the way that he was handled and that whole situation, you know I had to personally call him and apologize on behalf of the folks we represent,” Reed said.
“To have an economist of that stature to be caught up into this was very disappointing to me,” he added.
Reed went on to call Laffer a “gentleman,” adding “he’s not an activist. He’s not a politician. He’s an economist, as he will tell you.”
Reed told Stenger that he hopes the university will work with him to “rekindle” the Laffer speech and “do it in a way where maybe we can learn from that event.”
“And make sure that if there is any counter-protest that it's done in a civil way so that the message he was there to deliver can get delivered and they can have an exchange,” he added.
“But I also wanted to come and stand with these College Republicans in particular because of the tabling situation as well as the Laffer event.
Before the meeting, Reed tabled with the conservative students in an effort to redeem the previous tabling event.
“You can do this in a civil way. You can have the dialogue, as long as you respect each other,” he said, adding that the conservative students “shouldn’t have had to experience” what they did during their previous event.
Reed also suggested possible mistreatment of the conservatives, mentioning “a lot of unanswered questions” around alleged double standards and punishments afforded to the group for failing to properly register their tabling event. Stenger responded by admitting that “the tabling event had certainly gotten out of control,” saying “The noise level, I could hear it from my office.”
But Stenger insists that the police “responded very quickly.”
“I think we had protected students that were on both sides at that point,” he said, saying that the police were not able to protect students in the beginning because they did not get there “until they heard that something was happening.”
“We have policies on campus that if you expect to have a counter-protest because of the content of something that is happening, let us know so that we can be prepared,” added Stenger.
The university president added that while the university was actually prepared for Laffer’s visit, Laffer didn’t give them time to clear the room.
“We were prepared for Dr. Laffer’s visit. We had police in the room. We had police outside, undercover, plainclothes, as well as in uniform. As soon as that student stood up on the chair with a bullhorn, police took action,” Stenger said, adding that the university “had enough police there to make as many arrests as necessary.”
“He didn’t give us a chance to do that,” Stenger said.
“We tried. We really did try,” he added, calling “whatever happened those two days in November” an “aberration of Binghamton.”
“That’s not the way things happen here. I think we have a very broad perspective on views,” the president insisted, adding, "the language that those students used will haunt them the rest of their lives.”
Campus Reform also obtained exclusive footage of Reed speaking with students on campus.
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Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at Binghamton, told Campus Reform of the meeting, "the Congressman left with a better understanding of what happened and appreciated President Stenger's ability to explain to him the facts as well as the University’s response."
Will Reinert, Reed's communications director, told Campus Reform that "the jury is still out."
"Tom will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the students are treated fairly going forward," Reinert said.
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