A petition claims a University of Louisville archive gallery, focused on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, makes "multiple student communities feel unwelcomed and uncomfortable" — and that it should be eliminated, The College Fix reported.
The petition — which refers to the gallery in the campus library as a "McConnell Shrine" — contends that the gallery's presence indicates the "university supports the idea that only the lives of those with power and money deserve to be archived." McConnell graduated from the school and represents Kentucky in Washington, D.C.
Students Bayne Lutz and Syann Lunsford started the petition, The College Fix said, adding that the pair didn't respond to requests for comment.
The outlet said it retained an earlier version of the petition which stated that "dedicating a space on campus to idealize a man who actively votes to take away the rights of immigrants, women, the LGBTQ+ community, people of color and low-income citizens sends the message that our university and library do not care about under-represented groups, diversity, inclusion or equality."
The College Fix added that after its media requests, the petition's language was toned down.
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In its current version, the petitioners emphasize they are not seeking to abolish the McConnell-Chao Archives altogether, simply repurpose the 7,000-square-foot Civic Engagement Gallery that is part of the exhibit. The petition claims "the space makes multiple communities feel unwelcomed and uncomfortable … "
They also argue the gallery is underutilized space that could be better used. In reference to the gallery's goal to "create a greater awareness and appreciation for primary sources and their importance in documenting the past to understand the present," the petitioners argue "students, staff, nor faculty use this space for its explicit educational purpose, while others do not know that it exists."
They suggest instead to transform the space into a student study area, or, perhaps display the Louisville Underground Music Archive or an LGBTQ+ item collection center, or a lounge for library staffers.
In a museum-like sphere, the Civic Engagement Gallery highlights the careers of Sen. McConnell and Secretary of Transportation Chao by showcasing personal items and memorabilia from both government figures.
What did McConnell and the college have to say?
McConnell's office didn't respond to emails and a phone call from the College Fix seeking comment, but the school's media relations director told the outlet "there are no plans for any changes at this time" for the Civic Engagement Gallery.
McConnell and Chao have faced way worse
One might imagine McConnell and Chao chuckling a bit over the petition given the pair have faced more serious opposition from oh-so-woke folks in the recent past.
You might recall the scene last June at Georgetown University when Chao had just about enough of protesters harassing her and McConnell over family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border — and she and actually got back in the protesters' faces, pointing at them, and telling them to "leave my husband alone."
Image source: YouTube screenshot
It was all part of the widespread left-wing attempt — spurred on by Democratic U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) — to harass prominent Republicans and conservatives in public.
And McConnell and Chao were treated to a dose of the incivility from four men last October when they were out to dinner at Louisville's Havana Rumba restaurant. In addition to a lot of yelling at the couple, an aggressor "slammed his fists down on McConnell's table, grabbed his doggie bag and threw the food out the door of the restaurant," according to one witness.
"Why don't you get out of here? Why don't you leave our country alone?" one protester was heard yelling on video.
McConnell and Chao remained calm throughout the encounter, but other customers started yelling back in defense of McConnell, saying "Leave him alone!"