The Young Americans for Freedom chapter at the University of Tampa hopes to host a pro-Israel speaker and flag display to honor terror victims and counter the lies of terrorist sympathizers that are being spread throughout academia.
Unfortunately, the UT administration is making things unnecessarily difficult.
The YAF chapter submitted requests for a lecture and flag display well within the required approval timeframe, only to be told days ago that the event will arbitrarily be deemed too “political” to follow standard approval procedures, and therefore subject to numerous roadblocks and delays.
The lecture, titled “War in the Middle East: What’s Next,” will feature Jonathan Schanzer, an author and counterterrorism expert who currently serves as senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Schanzer is not a politician, he is not a candidate for public office, and he is not speaking about a political issue. As YAF chair Nicole Littlefield aptly put it during the meeting, “this is an issue of human rights.”
Notably, the University of Tampa recently has hosted numerous leftist events, including drag shows, which have not been subjected to these restrictions.
The flag display will feature 200 Israeli flags to pay tribute to the more than 200 innocent women, children and men who have been taken hostage by Hamas.
Instead of joining the YAF chapter in condemning Hamas and making it as easy as possible for the event and display to come together, the institution’s top priority appears to be distancing itself from any possible appearance of endorsement of the chapter’s pro-Israel views.
Addie Carothers, director of wellness services, told the YAF chapter during the meeting that the university cannot take a hardline stance on the tragic events abroad due to the presence of Palestinian and Muslim students on campus: “We have students that are here that are from Palestine; we have students who are here from Muslim backgrounds, and so the way that UT is approaching this is just that we need to keep in mind that we have students from all over here and we want to make sure that everybody feels supported.”
The YAF students will be required to distribute individually printed disclaimers to every single audience member, chapter leaders were told in a recent Zoom meeting.
The disclaimer language, which must also be read aloud by the YAF student who introduces Mr. Schanzer, states, “The use of University of Tampa facilities for this event does not constitute an endorsement by the University. The views of those invited to speak on campus are the views of the speaker and not of UT.”
The chapter will not be allowed to begin advertising its event until the political event approval process has been completed, which will make things all the more difficult for the YAFers to have a successful event.
The flag display will be limited to two hours, contingent on the availability of a faculty member to supervise.
Not only is the University of Tampa cowering away from condemning terrorism – it’s deliberately impeding the path of those who hope to stand with Israel.
Despite these many hurdles, Littlefield and her fellow YAF chapter members are pushing forward to host a successful lecture as scheduled. They also intend to keep pushing back against the arbitrary time limit for the display.
The lecture, which will begin at 7:00 PM on November 14 in Shoemaker 230-A, is free and open to the public.