University Warns Students They ‘May See People With Viewpoints’ They ‘Don’t Agree With’ Before Conservative Event

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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  • San Francisco State University issued a “trigger warning” that a Turning Point USA event may occur on campus and urged students to avoid the area.
  • The warning came after the university president warned students not to disrupt the speaker and referred back to an April 6 incident where former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines was reportedly assaulted and hid in a classroom after protesters derailed her speech about saving women’s sports.
  • “You may see people with viewpoints you agree or don’t agree with. Please remember, you have a choice to engage or not engage with them,” the sign read.

San Francisco State University (SFSU) issued a “trigger warning” ahead of a conservative speaker event that was held off-campus after officials revoked a room reservation from the organizing group, according to Twitter posts.

The Turning Point USA chapter invited TPUSA Faith contributor Jon Root to speak about “How Wokeness Is Destroying America” on Wednesday evening, but university officials revoked the room reservation two days before the event and informed organizers that it would be considered unapproved, TPUSA reported. While the event was moved to an off-campus location, university officials put up a sign on campus that warned students they may encounter speech they find offensive. (RELATED: Cornell University Rejects Student Demands To Insert ‘Trigger Warnings’ Before Class Discussions)

“There could be a congestion in the quad and you may want to detour around the area,” the sign read, according to a photo posted to Root’s Twitter. “You may see people with viewpoints you agree or don’t agree with. Please remember, you have a choice to engage or not engage with them.”

“When I showed up to San Francisco state’s campus, I saw a trigger warning sign on the walkway warning students about my event, which I thought to be quite humorous,” Root told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “As if I and the chapter are the ones perpetuating violence and intolerance.”

The sign reaffirmed that the event was not sponsored by SFSU and that there could be a larger police presence “to ensure public safety on campus,” according to the post. Photos of the event show that it was held off-campus at a nearby reservoir after a local park was closed for “inclement weather,” according to Root’s Twitter.

A few protesters attended the speech holding signs in support of transgender people, according to Root’s Twitter. They used a portable speaker to try and drown out Root, but he said he was “glad they were there.”

“These people need the truth & I gave it to them,” he tweeted.

“I believe the event was a success,” Root told the DCNF. “Everyone that needed to be there was there & most importantly, the TPUSA students deserve so much credit for their resiliency in the face of threats from students, faculty and staff who desperately wanted to shut this down completely. I did this speech for them.”

Wednesday’s event came weeks after Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer and women’s sports advocate, was assaulted on campus and barricaded in a classroom after protesters disrupted her on-campus speech also hosted by the TPUSA chapter. University President Lynn Mahoney said in a statement to the campus community that the event was “deeply traumatic” for the transgender community and praised students for “peacefully” protesting.

Mahoney asked students not to disrupt Root’s event in a message to the campus community posted on Tuesday, according to the university website. She alleged that speakers and organizers “hope to elicit negative responses on college campuses” to gain media attention and that students may find Root’s speech “abhorrent.”

I urge us all to defy the expectations of media and others who want to see us react negatively and instead use this moment to amplify values of inclusion and not values or speakers we find objectionable,” Mahoney wrote, using bolded words in the statement. “Just as we are an exemplar for social justice, I urge us to become an exemplar for allowing freedom of expression and avoiding the conflicts that some who politicize free speech would like to see occur here. There is no ultimate gain to shouting down or threatening speakers with whom we disagree. I applaud the many faculty, staff and students who have and are actively designing alternative events, hosting teach-ins, and promoting silent and nonviolent means of protest.”

Disrupting the event “will amplify divisive speech and messages and empower speakers with whom you disagree,” Mahoney said.

SFSU officials revoked the TPUSA chapter’s reservation after they learned that the event had 800 RSVPs, Root previously told the DCNF. Officials reportedly promised to find an alternative venue, but later walked back approval.

An SFSU spokesperson told the DCNF that the university told the chapter they could move the date of the event to use a venue with a larger capacity, hold the event online or use an off-campus location.

“The organization declined all of those options and said they would hold their event outdoors on the Campus Quad. [Time Place and Manner] informed them that they would need to comply with rules for spontaneous events,” the spokesperson said. “Campus staff and public safety officers were on site to support the event at the appointed time, but the organization chose to hold the event at a nearby off-campus location.”

The Gaines event was not listed as a reason for revoking the reservation, but “but since SFSU never condemned the assault of Riley, and even praised the protestors, we’re inclined to believe the two events are connected,” Root told the DCNF.

“When we mentioned safety concerns for this upcoming event, we were met with two options, host a Zoom event or cancel all together,” he continued.

The TPUSA chapter did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

This article has been updated with comment from San Francisco State University.

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