Nearly 100 faculty members from the University of North Texas signed and published an open letter strongly denouncing the university’s recent decision to invite Donald Trump Jr. to a speaking engagement hosted by the university — even though the event is not taking place on campus.
What is the event?
The Kuehne Speaker Series has been held annually by UNT since 2013 and aims to provide a forum to discuss “topics of national and global relevance,” according to the event’s website.
The university uses the money raised for scholarships, and tables cost from $5,000 to $100,000. The Oct. 24 event is being held at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington.
The North Texas Daily student newspaper, through a public information request, first reported that Trump Jr. will be paid $100,000 to speak at the Kuehne Speaker Series event. He is expected to deliver a 30-minute speech followed by a Q&A session.
Why are faculty members protesting Trump Jr.’s appearance?
“This invitation evinces a stunning disrespect for women, people of color, LGBTQ members of our community, and others, and it cannot stand,” faculty members said in the open letter published Friday.
“We the undersigned UNT faculty write to profess our profound shock, dismay, and embarrassment that the university we are so proud of would stoop to invite Donald Trump Jr. to speak in North Texas under UNT’s auspices,” the letter read.
“We call on the UNT Board of Regents to rescind UNT’s invitation to Mr. Trump and to suspend the Kuehne Speaker Series until UNT administrators can devise a shared-governance process that will bring more of UNT’s stakeholders — including UNT administrators, faculty, staff, and students — together to select speakers,” it added.
How did the university respond?
According to KDFW-TV, the school released a statement explaining that they welcome speakers who represent a variety of viewpoints along with “speakers of interest who would attract sponsors and further support the goal of raising money for scholarships.”
The speaker series is still scheduled for Oct. 24, and the university has not announced any intention of changing those plans.
What is the community saying?
● “With some of the things his father has said about African-Americans, women and a lot of other minorities who are part of the student population, doesn’t seem like a great idea to bring him out here for our speaker series.” — UNT student T.J. McCrea
● “They have the right to their own opinion. But personally, I would like for them just to teach.” — UNT student Hailee Martin
● “UNT is largely a liberal campus. It’s important to have an open mind and allow those who may have a conservative mind frame to listen to someone they might agree with on their campus.” — UNT student Christian Herrmann