I want to apologize for my mistake in singling out a student and any misunderstandings that arose from that. One of my favorite things about working at a liberal arts institution is that the University community has diverse perspectives. All students, faculty, and staff are able to engage in civil discourse with those whose views may be different from their own, and to learn about those views in an academic setting. I value and support these conversations with students, and I know that students value these conversations with their peers as well.
That is the apology from Dr. Avery Tomkins, “Diversity Scholar.”
What happened was that the news got out that Nick Sandmann enrolled as a freshman at Transylvania University. (Transylvania U. is the oldest college in Kentucky, in Lexington, two hours from the Sandmann home in Covington.) This prompted a Social Justice Warrior named Samuel Crankshaw to put out a post on Facebook. The thing is, Samuel Crankshaw is some kind of official at ACLU and has a following. Here is Crankshaw’s post:
Does anyone else think it’s a bit of a stain on Transylvania University for accepting Nick Sandman? I’m sure it’s a “both sides” defense, but it’s pretty counter to their mission and another instance of there not actually being equal sides to an issue. I think TU should accept anyone willing to have an open mind and engage in debate, regardless of their views. That’s how we all learn. That’s Transy’s mission.
But this kid clearly is a provacateur in training with no intention of learning. He exists only to troll, intimidate and play victim. He and his attorney proudly use their national platforms to promote QAnon, which has *literally* been the direct cause of multiple instances of violence (not to mention all of the other batshit stuff). He is proudly defending Kyle Rittenhouse, who murdered two people for exercising political speech. Ironically this silenced victim is running with Don Jr., spoke at the GOP convention, has a bill in his honor at the General Assembly, has atteneded private schools, has a national law firm representing him, etc. So silenced. He’s no diffrenet from teh likes of MIlo Yiannopoulos, but he is more dangerous.
Having experienced the incredibly high standards Transy requires for admission and then holds its students to, this seems like a slap in the face. I hope some time in a real classroom changes him, but his twitter and public persona suggest otherwise.
Which prompted a comment in reply from a resident Diversity Scholar on the Transylvania faculty, Avery Brooks Tompkins.
The comment and reply got noticed by law professor Jonathan Turley, who wrote it up in an essay in which his chief point was the low point of SJW partisanship exhibited by an official of ACLU. Here is Turley’s discussion of the comment from Professor Tompkins:
One person responding positively was Dr. Avery Tompkins, an Assistant Professor and Diversity Scholar at Transylvania University, acknowledged that the university supported diverse viewpoints but promised to closely monitor Sandmann while he is on campus: “If he were to cause problems by being disruptive, trolling, or engaging in unethical behavior of any kind, I would immediately document it (just like I would for any student doing the same thing)…and he would just be putting himself in a position for me to file a conduct report.”
Doing the same thing? What thing? Free speech?
Rather than say that there is no reason why this conservative student should be singled out in this way, Tompkins declares publicly “I get where you are coming from.” Where would that be? Crankshaw was coming from a place where a wrongly accused conservative teenager will be harassed or targeted for daring to take his views to a college.
So, welcome to Transylvania U., Freshman Sandmann!
Turley’s post was noticed and yielded articles at RedState, Washington Examiner, and then by Fox News. Unfortunate young Nick S. is a celebrity.
Turley, not a professional journalist, did what professional journalists are supposed to do, and reached out to Professor Tompkins and to Transylvania University for comments. Turley’s inquiries prompted the apology by Professor Tompkins at the top of this post. It also yielded this note from Transylvania U.:
A college campus is a place where the wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and opinions of the community — students, staff, faculty and alumni — meet. Transylvania, like nearly every campus, is composed of those holding the full range of viewpoints.These differences often form the backbone of a vibrant and challenging educational experience. In this place of divergence, we strive to foster dialogue and listen to each other with generosity and a presumption of goodwill in the pursuit of understanding.
The goal of a liberal arts education is to give students the skills and ability to engage in encounters that may cause them to reflect and think differently or to understand and validate their original belief or viewpoint. In either case, the exposure to the ideas, individuals and diverse viewpoints and the subsequent reflection is the critical aspect.
There are two things that, as a university, we are not able to discuss: our students (without their permission) and personnel matters. In response to posts on social media and other websites over the Labor Day weekend, we reiterate that point. A review of the situation will be conducted expeditiously by the appropriate university officials.
Both responses were attached as updates by Jonathan Turley at his post:
I think Nick Sandmann has learned more in the past nine months than he is likely to learn in four years at Transylvania University. I just hope he did not select sociology as his major, where Professor Tompkins writes on Transgender Issues and teaches these courses:
Introduction to Sociology
Introduction to Women’s Studies
Trans Memoir and Creative Non-Fiction
Activism and Social Media
Sociology of the Body
Politics of Identity
Avery Brooks Tompkins, Ph.D.