UPDATE 7/9/20 2:19 PM: Jayne Howell, chairwoman of the Denton County Republican Party, gave the following statement to Texas Scorecard:
“Banning people and groups from anywhere due to their political orientation is a fundamental violation to the U.S. Constitution. This is “cancel culture” and discrimination at its best. Campuses are to be an area where free speech flourishes, despite one’s political leanings.”
Members of a conservative student organization at the University of North Texas (UNT) are under siege from threats of violence, hexes, and a petition drive for the taxpayer-funded university to ban them—all led by a coalition of extreme-left Democrat organizations. The situation has drawn the attention of Republican and Democrat county parties, a state representative, and UNT President Neal Smatresk, who says he is “looking into” allegations made by the extreme-left coalition.
The UNT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT at UNT)—a nonpartisan conservative youth organization—has been a target of the extreme-left for some time. Last year, the chapter’s chairman, Kelly Neidert, described resistance her organization has faced from employees of taxpayer-funded UNT.
The situation caught the attention of State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington), who called for taxpayer-funded institutions, like UNT, that violate freedom of speech to “be held accountable” and “punished.”
Now, UNT College Democrats, allied with UNT GLAD (a student LGBTQ organization) and MUEVE (a Spanish acronym translated to mean “Eternal Life United Student Movement”), has started a petition to ban YCT at UNT.
Student organizations such as UNT GLAD and MUEVE advance extreme-left policies through race and sexual identity politics.
This extreme-left coalition accuses YCT at UNT of showing “a pattern of racism, transphobia, and homophobia throughout the 2019 through 2020 school year.”
They include as part of their evidence a post from YCT at UNT’s Twitter account, which said, “Pronouns in your [T]witter bio isn’t a personality trait.” This is in reference to the push from academic leftists for individuals to reject their gender identity and define themselves by how they feel, using pronouns such as “they,” “them,” or “ze.”
UNT GLAD responded with, “Being white and Christian isn’t a personality trait,” to which the YCT at UNT account replied, “Neither is having HIV but you guys based your club off of that.”
Regarding that reply, Chairman Neidert told Texas Scorecard that “the person who tweeted that was removed from the organization, but our account did send it.”
“We owned up to it and apologized to GLAD in person and removed the person who sent it,” she added. They offered UNT GLAD a written “Peace Treaty,” apologizing “for how the HIV tweet was interpreted.”
They added, “YCT is not here to appease your demands,” but the group did offer a compromise of deleting their replies to UNT GLAD if they would do the same. YCT at UNT refused to delete their initial tweet.
The petition cites another Twitter post, in which YCT at UNT encouraged conservatives on campus to “come out” on “National Coming Out Day” and held a bake sale where whites were apparently charged higher prices for baked goods than others.
The extreme-left coalition claims this as evidence YCT’s presence “has created a particularly unwelcoming environment for students of color.”
Neidert argues they were trying to show the results of affirmative action. “We chose different prices for minorities to show how affirmative action reflects races differently,” she said. “It’s supposed to show an over-simplification of AA for people who might have never really understood exactly what it is.”
The coalition is also holding YCT at UNT responsible for a controversial social media post by Will Crawford, who asked if one needs to have HIV in order to join UNT GLAD and if the organization’s president has “Super HIV.” Neidert says she had not previously heard of Crawford.
The coalition is also holding YCT at UNT responsible for a controversial act by a previous iteration of the UNT chapter, which allegedly offered candy to students who “captured” people posing as illegal immigrants. That chapter was banned in 2005.
The petition also alleges YCT at UNT violates the university’s definition of equity.
In addition to this petition, YCT at UNT and Neidert have had threats of violence leveled against them, and they claim their account was recently hacked.
Neidert has been the target of doxxing (attempts to publish her private and identifying information on the internet) by a member of antifa, as well as hexes.
The vice president of the First Generation Student Organization at UNT (UNTFGSO)—”dedicated to serving, uplifting, and representing the student body of first generation students”—appeared to assert she has no issues with threats of violence against Neidert.
In response to a request for a statement, UNTFGSO President Dalton Dickson said:
“Myself and our executive members will go to any lengths to defend, serve, and uplift first gen students at UNT. [YCT at UNT] spreading hate is one of those things we will work to defend and protect our first gen students from.”
The extreme-left coalition’s claims have drawn the attention of UNT President Neal Smatresk, who said he was “looking into” YCT at UNT.
Texas Scorecard sent an inquiry to Smatresk’s office, asking if he supported and protected students’ freedom of speech and if he had spoken with Gov. Greg Abbott and members of the Texas Legislature of any options he’s pursuing to limit free speech on campus.
No response was received by publication time.
UNT Democrats recently acknowledged that their movements are a declaration of war on conservatives.
In a published statement, YCT at UNT said in part:
“We are not a perfect organization, but it is clear that some students just want us disbanded because we are conservatives. We are not going to bow down to the leftist mob that is filled with [vitriol] and hate.”
“As the executive director for the Young Conservatives of Texas, a petition by left-wing radicals to kick a chapter off campus for doing standard conservative activism is nothing new,” Manfred Wendt told Texas Scorecard. He said he wished to remind Smatresk that censoring students’ First Amendment rights “will reflect poorly on the university” and challenged him to use this as a teachable moment to educate students on free speech.
“Our Universities should be bastions of free speech where debate, dialogue, discussion, and disagreement are not discouraged but rather encouraged,” he added.
As of publication time, the petition to ban YCT at UNT has reached nearly 2,000 signatures.
Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order threatening universities’ federal funding if they do not protect free speech. Tarrant County GOP Chair Rick Barnes recently took to Twitter to defend free speech, as well, in response to the Tarrant County Democrat Party supporting UNT Democrats in calling for the ban of YCT at UNT.
State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park) posted that he, Keith Strahan, “and other liberty minded attorneys would be happy to sue UNT for any actions impairing any of the fundamental liberties of [YCT at UNT].”
“It’s exciting to think about,” he added.
They may also contact UNT President Neal Smatresk.
This article has been updated since publication.