Missouri state senators are not happy with UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal following his response to a recent protest on campus.
On Thursday, April 11, police arrested and injured one person at an event featuring conservative talk show host Michael Knowles. Agrawal released a statement the following day supporting UMKC’s LGBT+ community, but also said the university is legally obligated to “strictly enforce the First Amendment right to free speech for all.”
Some senators at the state level express different views on how the university should move forward from this incident.
Sen. David Sater (R-Cassville) is calling for Agrawal’s resignation over the statement his office released.
“As far as I’m concerned, [Agrawal] can go,” Sater said last week.
Sater and other senators have also threatened to cut funding to UMKC.
As reported by the Hannibal Courier-Post, Republican Rep. Robert Ross asked UM System President Mun Choi, “At what point would a staff member not be worth that tradeoff in a reduced amount to your budget?”
Choi reportedly does not feel pressured to fire Agrawal.
Jason Holsman (D-Jackson) did not necessarily agree with his colleagues and urged other lawmakers to give Agrawal a chance to clarify his statement.
“The rest of the students do not deserve to be in the cross-hairs of an appropriations battle over words you find distasteful from the chancellor,” said Holsman.
Knowles’ speech, entitled “Men are Not Women,” prompted a turnout of protesters from UMKC, the Kansas City Art Institute and the surrounding community.
The arrested protester, Alexis Dabu, was charged with “assault and other violations,” but has been released on bond. She has also been suspended and banned from campus and claims she is facing expulsion.
“This semester I was really…turning my grades around, and I thought I was going to finally graduate next year,” Dabu said. “Then everything fell apart.”
Multiple students have said Dabu’s attack on Knowles was not part of the planned protest.
The event was co-hosted by UMKC’s College Republicans organization and the UMKC Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), and it was sponsored by YAF’s national, parent organization, Young America’s Foundation.
“Violence and interruptions are never the answer to disagreement,” said YAF President Seth Schibler in a statement to U-News. “Our mission is to provide a platform for all students and create an environment of civil and respectful dialogue.”
Spencer Brown, a Young America’s Foundation spokesman, also commented on the incident and Agrawal’s subsequent statement, calling him an “apologist for the radical leftists” and “pathetic.”
The YAF seeks to “educate students about the liberal agenda that is rooted in a vast majority of universities,” among other things. YAF chapters at other universities across the nation have received media attention for hosting white nationalist speakers and events like “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day.”
After the event, YAF’s faculty advisor Dr. Mona Lyne immediately resigned. She declined to comment further on the incident.