The University of New Hampshire will not punish two individuals, dressed as Harambe and Richard Nixon, who counter-protested a walk-out over Donald Trump’s election, despite complaints from UNH professors. UNH’s Women’s Studies department, however, will undergo a full investigation.
The two people, whom UNH could not identify (or even confirm were actually students), showed up at the protest and walked alongside members of the UNH community, handing out baby pacifiers — apparently, mocking those triggered by Trump’s win.
The gesture led to several complaints from UNH faculty members, including several professors from the schools English and Womens’ Studies departments, one of whom claimed the students were throwing the pacifiers at protesters, and two others who called on UNH’s administration to investigate and, ultimately, expel the two individuals who pulled the stunt.
UNH’s spokesperson said UNH administration declined, saying UNH students are allowed freedom of expression. “Every member of the University community has the right to hold, defend and promote their personal opinions. These opinions do not represent an official UNH position and are not presented as such.”
The Womens’ Studies program that complained, however, will not get off so easily.
According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Women’s Studies professors who penned an “open letter” to school officials asking for the Harambe-centric investigation, have engaged in several months of unauthorized electioneering.
The public school specifically prohibits official clubs from endorsing political candidates or promoting campaigns. The Women’s Studies department not only made social media posts favoring Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates (and showing students using school resources to paint election signs), but at least one professor was caught in the Wikileaks dump of Clinton chair John Podesta’s emails, offering his assistance to the campaign.
“I’m open minded on that, and I’ve helped out on some small matters in my private capacity, but the best place to start is with what I can do formally from heading the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire,” UNH Carsey School director Michael Ettlinger wrote to Podesta in 2015.
New Hampshire state law prohibits the use of university funds to participate in political activities, and UNH is already conferring with legal counsel.
“Where there has been a clear violation of the university policy prohibiting the use of institutional resources for partisan purposes, the university will take appropriate action. We will also make clear with all units the importance of not using university resources for partisan purposes,” UNH President Mark Huddleston told local media.