Clemson administrators Amy Burke and Sharetta Bufford manipulated the university’s pandemic limitations on attendance at events to limit the number of available tickets as conservative group Turning Point USA’s local chapter hosted conservative speakers Tomi Lahren, Brandon Tatum, and Graham Allen for an event on the South Carolina campus in April 2020. Not only did the two women reserve a batch of tickets that they had no intention of using, they boasted about it on social media.
Financial aid counselor Burke wrote, “i’ve reserved my two. and then two for pippi. and two for my work email. and two for my business account. i just realized i have plans though, dang it…” Bufford, who serves as assistant director of recruitment and inclusive excellence, said, “I just reserved 10. I JUST might show up to see what all the fuss is about!”
Obviously “inclusive excellence” doesn’t include students with non-conforming world views.
“If university staff members were submitting false reservations for seats in order to prevent others from attending the event, that plainly undermines the university’s commitment to freedom of expression, which includes not just a right to speak but a right to hear the speech of others,” said FIRE’s Director of Individual Rights Defense Program Adam Steinbaugh. It appears that this is exactly what they were doing.
Clemson is reportedly investigating; if the facts are as the evidence seems to indicate, those two administrators better be fired. However, the fact that two individuals that highly placed in campus administration would consider such conduct, much less admit to it, tells us that they must have been confident that Clemson culture would be sympathetic to their efforts to minimize the circulation of “unacceptable” political views. If they were right about that, then the school is deadening ethics alarms. If all the school does is fire the immediate culprits while leaving the undemocratic and anti-speech environment on campus intact, the only message sent will be “Don’t get caught.
I would also question the kind of hiring and vetting practices that would permit individuals with such little respect for the educational process and the free exchange of ideas to attain. This is not a problem of two bad apples, but rather rot in the barrel.
Pointer and Facts: College Fix