University of Nebraska officials respond to state senators

November 2, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — University of Nebraska officials are responding after a handful of state lawmakers publicly questioned whether the school created a hostile environment for conservative students.

University President Hank Bounds and Chancellor Ronnie Green wrote letters after two Nebraska newspapers featured an opinion piece by Sens. Steve Erdman of Bayard, Tom Brewer of Gordon and Steve Halloran of Hastings. Bounds questioned the senators’ intent.

“I don’t relish the prospect of a public dispute with members of the Legislature,” Bounds wrote. “Unfortunately, no one contacted me to discuss your questions before the piece was sent to the media, even though senators have my cellphone number and email address.”

In the op-ed, the senators highlighted an incident that involved a graduate teaching assistant allegedly calling second-year student Kaitlyn Mullen a “neo-fascist” as Mullen recruited for Turning Point USA, a conservative group. The op-ed questioned whether the university could fairly investigate the incident and asked: “Are professors at UNL hostile toward conservative students?”

In his response, Green wrote that the university won’t “be politicized” and used a pawn.

“I find your falsehoods and distortions defamatory and an egregious breach of the trust that Nebraskans put in each of us,” Green wrote.

Erdmand said the responses from Green and Bounds were “about what I expected.” He said he and the other senators just want to make the university better.

Mullen said she’s surprised the incident is still being discussed. She said she wants the university to be comfortable place for everyone.

“There’s so many great professors,” Mullen said. “I really enjoy my classes.”

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