An American Civil Liberties Union official in Kentucky chastised Transylvania University over the weekend for accepting Nicholas Sandmann as a student, calling the move a “stain” on the institution.
Sandmann made headlines back in January 2019 when a Native American activist stood in front of the teen and began chanting in his face during a pro-life rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Sandmann, who was wearing a MAGA hat at the time and is a supporter of President Trump, held his ground and smiled at the man as he continued to talk in his face.
“Does anyone else think it’s a bit of a stain on Transylvania University for accepting Nick Sandman [sic]? I’m sure it’s a “both sides” defense, but it’s pretty counter to their mission and another instance of there not actually being equal sides to an issue,” ACLU’s Samuel Crankshaw said in a Facebook post, according to The National Review.
The comment has since been taken down.
Following the confrontation back in 2019, outlets such as CNN and The Washington Post were accused of purposely casting Sandmann — and his fellow Covington Catholic students — as the main aggressors with misleading reporting. Both outlets ultimately reached a legal settlement with Sandmann after he sued them in court for $250 million.
The defamation suit sought damages for the “emotional distress Nicholas and his family suffered” in the fallout of the network’s reporting — and lawyers for Sandmann have said they will target other major outlets who reported on the story in the same way.
An assistant professor and diversity scholar at Transylvania Unversity, Avery Tompkins, shared a comment on the post before it was taken down, calling Sandmann’s “public behavior and rhetoric atrocious and uninformed,” adding that the young student must accept his class as gospel, The National Review reported.
“We can’t not admit academically qualified students due to their political and personal views,” he said. “If he ends up in my Intro class, fine. He might learn something that is actually based on research and evidence.”
Tompkins added that Sandmann is part of groups that hold “anti-intellectualist views” and would see the professor “as part of some liberal brainwashing machine, but signing up for Transy and my class means he is required to learn that information, even if he disagrees.”
The professor continued: “If he were to cause problems by being disruptive, trolling, or engaging in unethical behavior of any kind, I would immediately document it (just like I would for any student doing the same thing)…and he would just be putting himself in a position for me to file a conduct report.”
Tompkins later issued an apology saying, “I want to apologize for my mistake in singling out a student and any misunderstandings that arose from that.”
“One of my favorite things about working at a liberal arts institution is that our community has diverse perspectives,” he continued. “All students, faculty and staff are able to engage in civil discourse with those whose views may be different from their own, and to learn about those views in an academic setting. I value and support these conversations with students, and I know that students value these conversations with their peers as well.”
The university said in a statement to National Review on Tuesday that it would be reviewing the situation and that “Transylvania, like nearly every campus, is composed of those holding the full range of viewpoints.”