Home Campus The aftershock of Kaitlin Bennett’s Ohio U visit

The aftershock of Kaitlin Bennett’s Ohio U visit

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The ripple of Kaitlin Bennett’s Ohio University visit is still being felt by the institution more than a week later because of the significant amount of national attention paid to her appearance.

University departments, including Undergraduate Admissions, have received phone calls and emails from both concerned parents and critics of Ohio U’s handling of the controversial far-right activist’s visit.

The university response by and large has been to reassure parents and families that Ohio University is a safe campus. We have also emphasized our values, including that of civility; we encourage free exchange of ideas and scholarly discourse on our campus,” Ohio U spokesperson Carly Leatherwood said.

It’s difficult to determine precisely how many phone calls and emails the university received concerning Bennett’s visit because it doesn’t have a system designed to log such data, Leatherwood said.

Bennett’s trip to Ohio U coincided with President’s Day and the first OHIO Up Close day of the spring semester where prospective students tour the university with their families.

Campus tour guides have since been prescribed talking points by the university that emphasize the institution’s commitment to upholding free speech and civility to assuage anxious parents visiting campus with prospective students. They were also instructed to send any media requests to Leatherwood.

Ohio U’s Facebook page has been swarmed with negative comments criticizing the university and its students for how both responded to Bennett’s debut appearance in Athens.

Every post the university has made on the platform since Bennett’s visit has had nearly 100 comments, the majority concerning Bennett.

Screenshot of comments on Ohio University’s Facebook page.

Bennett appeared outside Baker Center on Feb. 17 around 1 p.m, and was quickly swarmed by hundreds of student protesters demanding that she leave campus. Bennett and her cohort loaded into a bright orange truck and left less than two hours later.

The incident did not rise to the level of a riot and there were no arrests or reports of injury or violence, according to a statement from the Ohio University Police Department. The department also did not receive prior notification of Bennett’s plans to visit campus.

Following her visit, Bennett vowed to return to Athens with “an army of gun owners” for an open carry walk through campus. While concealed carry on college campuses is restricted in Ohio, open carry is allowed. 

Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones encouraged Bennett on his highly controversial radio show Infowars to return to town in the near future, saying he would join her.

Bennett is a contributor for Jones’ media network, which is known for promoting misinformation about events like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Ohio U students have begun planning a “silent protest/die-in” in case of Bennett’s return. The Facebook page for the event tells participants to “make their way to College Green, sit down, and say nothing,” while playing dead as if they’ve been shot.

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One Comment

  1. Jerry Wonning

    February 26, 2020 at 4:52 PM

    I’m reading this as I’m a parent of an Ohio HS Jr and we are now in the process of choosing what Universities to consider. I had not picked up on this news, until doing research this week. Then went to various web sites and videos. This is SCARY to me. Scary that people of different options are so criticized by the students. It reminded me of the same type of people we saw preventing Blacks from attending school over Bolling v. Sharpe / Brown v. Board of Education.

    I have many friends/Family that graduated Ohio U. is this the new campus?

    Reply

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