EducationTrinity University Blocks Funding for Conservative Speakers Requested by Students

Trinity University's student government denied a request to bring Elisha Krauss to campus, claiming the speaker's message would not align with "honoring the dignity and worth of every person."
February 24, 2020
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The student government of Trinity University in San Antonio denied a funding request by the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) to invite Elisha Krauss, a conservative commentator and contributor to The Daily Wire, to speak on campus.

Julia Westwick, the chair of the YCT chapter at Trinity, said that her group requested $1,500 from the student government to invite Krauss and that Young America’s Foundation (YAF) would be helping with the other half of the cost of speaking fees.

The denial from the student government is only to help with the funding. YCT’s request for the event could still be approved, but they would need to find another way to cover the speaking fees.

Trinity’s student government also denied YCT’s request last fall for $10,000 to invite Heather Mac Donald to speak on campus.

Mac Donald is another conservative commentator and author of The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine our Culture.

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In response to that request, Westwick said that the student government gave two reasons for the denial: the speaker’s viewpoint was too controversial and the funding request was too high.

“When we tried again this semester, we made sure to have quite a low request,” said Westwick. “As we saw with this decision, the money really didn’t have anything to do with it, because we gave a low request and they still said ‘no.’”

According to Campus Reform, while the student government president originally stated that the decision on funding for last semester’s request shouldn’t be about the content of the speaker, Trinity’s dean of students encouraged them to consider the content because “there are some things that might seem so egregious.”

But according to Trinity’s student paper, the Trinitonian, SGA President Ty Tinker contradicted their claim, saying that concerns about “whether or not the speaker represents the pillars of Trinity” was a “pretty brief proportion of the discussion.” 

“[T]he primary reasons that the funding was denied was because of the previous security concerns being seen at other campuses. There have been riots and protests,” said Tinker, according to the Trinitonian.

Nonetheless, the official denial of the funding request to invite Krauss was denied on the basis of the speaker’s viewpoint.

In an email denying the request for funding, a representative of the student government stated that they denied the request because of “the alignment of the speaker’s message with TU values (specifically ‘honoring the dignity and worth of every person’) and the potential impact on the campus community.”

Beyond the statement above, the student government has not specified why they believe Krauss’s message would be at odds with the university’s values.

Trinity’s statement of values also asserts, “We work with each other in continually uncovering new ways to think, to create, to teach, to learn, and to grow.”

Asked if the decision to deny funding based on the content of speakers is at odds with the university’s value promoting critical thinking, SGA Vice President Georgia Roberts, who sent the denial of the request, has not provided a response to The Texan at the time of publication.

“I understand that the student government maybe thinks that since we have a generally liberal student population, they should make liberal decisions,” said Westwick. “But they’re ignoring a significant amount of students at Trinity that are not liberal.”

In the past, the student government has also taken politically charged positions.

Last year, for instance, they unanimously passed a resolution condemning Chick-fil-A, stating, “Trinity is a university that emphasizes its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Having Chick-fil-A in the rotation at Revolve conflicts with those values. Trinity’s values of diversity and inclusion and Chick-fil-A’s values regarding the LGBT+ community are mutually exclusive.”

A representative of the university reportedly said that Trinity “hosts speakers across the political spectrum, some funded by student groups and others by the University or its departments,” mentioning that the student government approved a request from a pro-life group on campus to invite Alveda King.

King is a pro-life activist and the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.

According to the Trinitonian, the student senate approved a $4,360 request to bring King to the school on April 5, a cost that includes her speaking fee and the expenses of the Trinity University Police Department representatives.

The funds distributed by the student government come from a $150 student activity fee.

In the fall, the total amount of funds for the student government to allocate was $348,332.16.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. While recently finishing his degree in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University, he also interned in the U.S. Senate and co-authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. In his spare time, he might be reading up on Dostoevsky or attempting to write a novel.