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For Immediate Release
December 27, 2019

Statement from United University Professions President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., on President Trump misstatements concerning a November Binghamton University student protest

“President Trump has exaggerated, mischaracterized and distorted a November student sit-in protest at Binghamton University, solely for political gain. It is simply unacceptable to stand by while President Trump bends reality to politicize this incident to escalate rhetoric to incite his base.

“Late last week, President Trump commented on the Binghamton University protest, claiming that student protesters who stopped a speech by Conservative economist Arthur Laffer were 'radicals' who 'swing clubs, they swing bats, they swing everything.'

“These statements, made to students at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, Fla., are outright lies. In fact, every statement uttered by the president regarding the November protest at Binghamton University is a lie.

“News and video coverage of the event shows that student protesters did not use weapons. A BU spokesman said that no violence or injuries occurred during the incident.

“United University Professions strongly supports the First Amendment rights of our students and faculty. Academic institutions are places where lively debate and differences of opinion should be encouraged. People—and particularly students—who choose to exercise their rights to freedom of speech and assembly should be allowed to make their views known. They should not be used for political advantage.

“We will not allow President Trump to denigrate our students and involve them in his ongoing campaign to divide our country. Trump’s playbook includes never giving an inch, demonizing those who disagree, and degrading the level of discourse. Confronting him and standing up to him are the only ways to respond.

“During UUP’s most recent Winter Delegate Assembly, the union’s policymaking convention, more than 250 delegates adopted a resolution calling on UUP and SUNY to issue statements condemning any attacks on academic freedom, civic engagement, and political dialogue, as well as efforts to limit or curtail peaceful protests and activism on SUNY campuses.

“Vilifying and criminalizing students who engage in non-violent civil protest against someone who was invited to campus solely as provocateur, not as a scholar, ignores Binghamton University’s goal of encouraging civic engagement among our students” stated Sean Massey, President of the Binghamton Chapter of UUP. “It also disregards the explicit commitment many of our departments and programs have made to social justice.”

“We will never remain silent when our students are attacked and mischaracterized. And we will not let anyone—including President Trump—ever use our students for political gain,” said Kowal."

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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