University is launching a review into its options, but its own policies will likely limit what it can do
Football players and women’s basketball players at Kansas State want to see Jaden McNeil, a conservative student, expelled for joking about George Floyd in a June 25 tweet.
If he is not expelled, the students vow to refuse to play their sports or help with donor events.
McNeil tweeted “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!” Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!
— Jaden McNeil (@McNeilJaden) June 25, 2020
As can be expected, these tweets did not sit well with many in the university community.
Tee Denson, a defensive back for KSU, tweeted, “I refuse to play for a program that tolerates ignorance such as this” and Joshua Youngblood, a wide receiver, tweeted and then deleted a a statement, saying “I’m not coming back until he kicked out [sic],” according to The Washington Post.
Other players on the team made similar statements.
On Friday evening, Chrissy Carr, a guard for the women’s basketball team, said that the women’s basketball team would not play or participate in an donor or recruiting events unless they see change.
Kansas State University condemned McNeil, tweeting “The insensitive comments posted by one K-State student hurts [sic] our entire community. These divisive statements do not represent for the [sic] values of our university.”
“We condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms. We are launching an immediate review of the university’s options. Black Lives Matter at Kansas State University and we will continue to fight for social justice.”
A message from President Richard Myers:
The insensitive comments posted by one K-State student hurts our entire community. These divisive statements do not represent for the values of our university. We condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms.
— K-State (@KState) June 26, 2020
The university may be limited in their ability to take action; in 2017 it adopted a version of the Chicago Statement on free-speech, earning itself a “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Its “Statement on Free Speech and Expression” seems to explicitly forbid the university from punishing students for comments that others may find offensive.
The university statement declares “it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”
McNeil most likely has received more attention than most students due to his history of activism on and off campus.
He originally led a Turning Point USA chapter, but left the organization in October 2019 after disagreements over how the organization and TPUSA president Charlie Kirk handled the Covington Catholic incident and Kirk’s views on immigration.
McNeil accused the group of “condemning the innocent high school students for having the gall to smile in the face of an adult’s aggressive behavior,” and he saw this as an example of their “fair-weather conservatism,” according to an article in American Greatness, which summarized the controversy.
McNeil’s original tweet with a link to his statement has been deleted.
McNeil founded America First Students as an opposing organization to Turning Point. The group’s Twitter profile describes itself as an organization dedicated to “strong borders, traditional families, the American worker, and Christian values.”
Several of its groups signed onto a letter that called on President Trump to reduce the number of H-1B visas.
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