Nearly 70 members of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln have signed an open letter expressing alarm over the charges from three state senators that the university is hostile to conservative students.
Faculty members express concern complaints from legislators will be used to justify budget cuts to the university.
“We believe it is imperative to express our alarm now, before irrevocable damage is done to the mission of the university and the value it contributes to the state of Nebraska,” faculty members write in the letter. “We insist that no radical changes be undertaken in the administration, academic programs, allocation of funds, or support for campus initiatives without appropriate faculty governance, transparency, and respect for academic freedom, which are core values of a healthy university.”
The letter identifies the state senators criticizing the university, Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings, Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard, and Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, as close allies to Gov. Pete Ricketts.
The letter claims the state senators and Gov. Ricketts, “…along with staff of anti-public-education nonprofits affiliated with Governor Ricketts, such as School Choice Lincoln, have leveraged a single campus interaction into a sustained attack on the University that has greatly surpassed the scope and import of the initial incident.”
The incident in question occurred August 25th, when a conservative student was called a “neo-fascist” and flipped the bird by a UNL graduate student-lecturer.
State senators unhappy with the reaction of the University of Nebraska to complaints that it mistreats conservative students say they will sponsor legislation guaranteeing freedom of speech on the Lincoln campus.
Halloran, Erdman, and Brewer sent a formal letter of complaint to Nebraska University President Hank Bounds and UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green.
The graduate instructor will not return to UNL. Two personnel from the UNL communications department have resigned in light of the controversy.