A professor at a Georgia public university reportedly instructed her students to protest a conservative speaker on campus during class time on Monday.
Professor Jalessah Jackson of Kennesaw State University told students in an email that they would be attending what she called a “transphobic” event in order to “support trans students at KSU,” according to Young America’s Foundation.
The event, sponsored by KSU’s chapter of YAF, was set to feature conservative commentator Michael Knowles of The Daily Wire.
“I am emailing to inform you all of today’s class format and meeting space,” Jackson reportedly wrote, according to a screen shot of the email obtained by YAF.
“KSU Young Americans for Freedom will be hosting a transphobic today, Monday, Oct 21 called ‘Men are not Women’ with Michael Knowles, who has been known for his racist and transphobic comments.”
While Jackson did not provide evidence of those comments in her email, she did mention the fact that Knowles was apparently banned from Fox News in September for referring to teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg as a “mentally ill Swedish child.”
Jackson reportedly wrote that in light of Knowles’ appearance, her class would be attending in protest.
“As a class, we will be coming out to support trans students at KSU. We want to communicate to the campus and broader community that transgender people have advocates on campus who support them and their right to exist.”
Jackson’s email was not just an invitation, however: It was an instruction.
“Although the event is 4-7pm,” she wrote, “you all will be expected to be present during class time 5:00-6:15pm.”
YAF spokesman Spencer Brown called the professor’s demand unconstitutional.
“Such an email runs afoul of the First Amendment,” Brown told The Western Journal.
“Professor Jackson could have offered students extra credit or another opportunity to bring Knowles’ ideas into the classroom with a critical analysis of his lecture, or informed students of both the lecture and protest and allowed them to skip class to participate in either as an exercise in free expression. But instead, she took for granted the fact that all her students are ideological monolithic and as intolerant as she apparently is.”
Brown explained that though Jackson eventually walked back her instructions, the original email constitutes “compelled speech.”
“While Professor Jackson did a ‘180’ when YAF reached out for comment on her email — stating students would not be penalized if they didn’t attend protest — her original message did not offer students the option to skip the class-turned-protest,” he said.
“Just as the First Amendment protects our God-given right to free expression, so too does it protect against compelled speech, such as required attendance at a protest.”
Furthermore, Brown said, Jackson’s original instructions are an example of the “corruption of the purpose of higher education.”
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