Enrollment at the public universities, community colleges and technical colleges under direction of the Kansas Board of Regents increased overall enrollment 1% in the fall semester following a massive decline in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — The chancellor of the University of Kansas and the chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday rejected the KU student body president’s “death to America” social media post while defending her constitutional right to free expression.
Student body President Niva McAdoo retweeted Sept. 3 on her account the text “happy Friday everybody. Death to America.”
In other posts, she indicated the reference to “death to America” was associated with the historical development of the United States through a campaign of genocide against indigenous people and by enforcing the institution of Black slavery.
KU chancellor Doug Girod said in a statement McAdoo’s post was “disappointing and concerning.” He said he understood why many people found her commentary offensive.
“The opinions in the student’s post are protected by the First Amendment,” Girod said. “In addition, KU is committed to its role as a marketplace of ideas, including ideas that some individuals find offensive.”
“I strongly disagree with the sentiment of her retweet,” the chancellor said, “and I want to make clear that she does not speak for the university on this or any other matter.”
Cheryl Harrison-Lee, chairwoman of the state Board of Regents, said the sentiment shared by McAdoo didn’t align with the higher education board’s beliefs. It didn’t reflect the type of dialogue encouraged on the state’s six public university campuses, she said.
She said the Board of Regents would defend constitutional rights of students even when “we vigorously disagree” with views expressed by the speaker. Earlier this year, board members signed a statement affirming that a desire for civility and respect couldn’t be used as leverage to silence expression.
“U.S. citizens strive daily to make a more perfect union. Often times we fall short,” Harrison-Lee said. “Nonetheless, we are proud to be Americans and despite its imperfections we are proud to call America home.”
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