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Claim: Students Sign Petition to Ban Trump-Supporting Professors
Summary: On March 30, 2017, a reporter with Campus Reform asserted that students at American University are attempting to ban professors "holding political beliefs different from their own." This claim has been linked to a display of how educational institutions have drifted far-left and are inherently on the offense against any ideas that challenge the world views of the university's students.
The claim first appeared on Campus Reform after an undercover reporter, Cabot Phillips, visited American University under the guise of a fictitious student group called "American Students for Diversity." Phillips, armed with a clip board and pen, asked students to sign a petition to ban Trump-supporting professors. The petition would prevent the school from hiring any professor who had voted for Donald Trump.
A majority of articles surfacing around this claim were reiterating what was already said by Cabot Phillips in his Campus Reform piece. However, several websites offered their own ideas and beliefs surrounding the issue that Phillips never addressed directly. In one article, written by Jon Street from The Blaze, discusses the "insane amount of students" who approached Phillips to sign the petition when in actuality there were only around twenty students and one professor who signed the petition. A majority of these response articles to the video of Cabot at the university campus were written less than forty eight hours after the initial release of the article online by Campus Reform.
Students at American University more often than not signed the petition, and had no interest in what others around them, with different viewpoints, had to say. The attitude of the students created a negative idea about "liberal students and professors". Professors gave words of encouragement to the undercover reporter, and a student even spoke on the petition, saying "America is not really a democracy anymore so we can't play by the normal rules anymore."
At the end of the day, over 20 students had agreed to sign the petition, while only one student declined.
With this claim there are several issues present and worrisome. The first is the idea that students are willing to take away the freedom and diversity of thought from college campuses and compromising their ability to expand their world view in trade for their comfort. The video and article do show that students and even some faculty believe that people who supported Trump during the election should not be able to teach at college campuses. This is worrisome and presents an atmosphere that is calling for the repression of ideas, thoughts, and beliefs by the same people who claim that they are advocates for diversity and inclusion of all people. Another issue that this presents is the underrepresentation of the student body that is depicted in this video. The reporter here only encountered a small handful of students that are not representative of the student body as a whole because of the small size that was shown. This creates a misrepresentation of American University as well as all universities in the United States as institutions that are mirroring and teaching the "hate of the young fascists in the lead up to World War II," says Pamela Geller.