North Texas Daily

President Smatresk failed the UNT community in wake of Trump Jr. speech

President Smatresk failed the UNT community in wake of Trump Jr. speech

October 25
23:02 2017

You were probably expecting our editorial this week to be focused on criticism surrounding Donald Trump Jr.’s speech through UNT’s Kuehne Speaker Series. Well, we’ve been there and done that.

Our issue is with someone we thought saw UNT as more than a paycheck, but apparently doesn’t. That’s right — we’re talking to you, President Smatresk.

When we first broke the story about Trump Jr. speaking as part of the Kuehne Series, your silence was deafening. Eventually, the outcry left you with no choice but to release a statement (although vague) addressing the upcoming controversial speech.

But in the face of donors, you chose to backpedal after emails obtained by The Dallas Morning News showed you trying to stop the event from taking place. In several emails to faculty, you wrote you were “not enthused” Trump Jr. was speaking and “I am trying to stop it, but it isn’t an easy thing. Untangling this donor advised talk is more difficult than I expected.”

Then, perhaps fittingly, Trump Jr. insinuated you were “the noise” surrounding opposition of his appearance.

Instead of choosing to stand beside the countless students, faculty and alumni you represent — who were vocal about their confusion regarding what Trump Jr. had to offer UNT — you chose to save face at the event by expressing support of the speech. Rather than reassert your duty to represent UNT’s values, morals and community as a whole, you chose to shift attention to journalists by saying a lot of “fake news” clouded the time leading up to the speech.

A speech that accused modern universities and professors of teaching college students they can go on to be Marxist philosophers and feminists after graduation —all while you and other UNT alumni and officials sat at tables starting at $5,000 a piece.

This was an event put on by university donors, so were your hands tied? Probably. But regardless, this was an opportunity for you to stand by not only your own convictions, but the convictions of those you represent.

It’s no secret UNT is a progressive school, so it also came as no surprise that when Trump Jr.’s speech was originally announced, the response was overwhelmingly negative. No one has claimed there aren’t people who supported Trump Jr.’s appearance, but all you have to do is take a quick look at the reactions on social media and public letters by UNT faculty to figure out which side of the scale is heavier.

You had a duty to UNT students, faculty and administration — and you let them down.

After leaving the stage at the event, you came across as, if nothing else, disingenuous.

As president of our university, it is your responsibility to stand by the views of the UNT community — not pander to people cutting the checks.

And in that regard, you failed miserably.

Featured image: University of North Texas President Neal Smatresk delivers the State of the University address on Sept. 21 at the Murchison Performing Arts Center. Smatresk talked about the achievements and the future of UNT. Sara Carpenter

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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  1. GWA
    GWA October 26, 07:17

    This article and the comments within show a lack of perspective. The purpose of the UNT Keuhne Speaker Series is to bring to UNT current and interesting speakers with the full awareness that not all, in fact, not the majority of UNT may agree with the speaker, nonetheless the purpose is to be thought provoking and informational. I am sure (hopeful) most now would agree Trump and all who support him are an embarrassment to our country. But rather than attack our UNT President who works to provide an open dialog environment where views on all sides can be expressed freely and subsequently debated, attack the speaker if you disagree with them. Let’s put the focus on the true problem. Allowing this speaker to present should engage and arm the community who disagree, with fuel for the fire. To quote a famous line: “Stay on target”.

    Reply to this comment
    • Loves UNT
      Loves UNT October 30, 12:03

      President Donald Trump has accomplished some wonderful things for the US by putting the U.S. first. He is not “embarrassment.” Nor are the Americans who voted for him. The Americans who are still whining about Donald Trump being elected, talking nasty on social media, etc., are the ones who are the “embarrassment.” I was mortified at the women during the Women’s March back in January. What was I doing that day? Working with men on a construction build for a disabled person! That is empowerment – not the disgusting things those on the Women’s March did, including Madonna, Ashley Judd and other celebrities.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Proud Trump depolorable
    Proud Trump depolorable October 26, 11:21

    Do you understand what a black eye UNT would have had if the president’s son was disinvited as a speaker by the UNT president, who was going against the wishes of a prominent alumnus? You probably don’t, because you live in a liberal bubble. Denton is in Texas. Texas is a very conservative state. It is not purple and is not close to being purple. It is red. The election results proved that. And Donald Trump won Denton County by nearly 60 percent of the vote, so Denton County as a whole isn’t liberal either. You’re ignoring the facts because you’re butthurt over the election and can’t accept the fact that Donald Trump is our president and many Texans and Americans like what he’s doing. UNT is not UC-Berkley, not any East Coast university, etc., that regularly bans conservative speakers. UNT is in Texas, and it would get a reputation as a terrible university if it banned conservative speakers, particularly one for an event that was NOT AIMED AT STUDENTS. Enrollment would probably fall rapidly – and it has fallen at some universities that have banned conservative speakers because the universities are seen as intolerant. UNT should be better than that!

    Reply to this comment
  3. FreeSpeech
    FreeSpeech October 26, 15:09

    I suppose you are all for free speech…as long as you agree with the content and if not then you want to silence it? What a disgrace. I do not like Trump Sr. or Jr., but what I dislike even more is a hypocrite with a pen.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Jordan
    Jordan October 26, 18:07

    Actually it’s not his job to pander to a majority as you seem to think. It’s his job to ensure there is no one being discriminated against; no one is being denied opportunities that others are afforded; and making sure his staff stay in line with the rules of our school, city, state and country. This article just sounds like a bunch of garbage from someone throwing a fit because dissenting opinions were allowed. That’s what the greatest parts of this country! We are allowed to have differing opinions. The fact that you’re tearing him apart for supporting a decision to allow multiple views to be expressed to the students shows you biased ignorance. I was so enthused to read your first article after the Trump Jr speech because it was unbiased and just stated the story! It was great writing and great journalism. This one is just trash though.

    Reply to this comment
  5. ELH
    ELH October 26, 20:09

    This article is a joke. Summary: “Mr. President, you’re against all opinions opposing mine having to a platform, but this time you weren’t against it enough!” Grow up.

    Reply to this comment
    • ANC
      ANC January 18, 14:21

      This is far from the truth. Did you actually read the article? He condemned the speech and then praised it to save face. This has nothing to do with his personal opinion.

      Reply to this comment
  6. You don't speak for me
    You don't speak for me October 27, 10:33

    UNT is not a “progressive” school. It is nonpartisan. The NT Daily editorial staff doesn’t get that. So much for the new opinion editor saying that the opinion page would be more balanced. This is nothing more than a temper tantrum and whinefest against Dr. Smatresk.

    Reply to this comment
  7. JSmith
    JSmith October 27, 17:46


    Reply to this comment
  8. Notmyuniversitynewspaper
    Notmyuniversitynewspaper October 27, 19:19

    Why would you disrespect the president of your university? If you don’t like the decisions made here then leave. No one I’d forcing you to stay, Trump jr. isn’t even stepping on campus.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Linda
    Linda October 28, 09:11

    I’m an alumnae of UNT. I’m offended by UNT’s hiring of DT Jr. and swear I will never donate money to the university.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Justice fo all
    Justice fo all October 29, 15:32

    Wow – a newpaper and a journalist critizing free speech.

    Reply to this comment
    • ANC
      ANC January 18, 14:22

      There is a difference between free speech and criticism. Just because free speech is wonderful, it doesn’t save you from criticism.

      Reply to this comment
  11. Formerly Proud UNT Grad
    Formerly Proud UNT Grad October 31, 09:36

    I have donated money every year to UNT since I graduated. When this event was announced, I voiced my absolute opposition to President Smatresk via my e-mail, as did countless others. Seeing how spineless he was, I can’t say I’m surprised things went this way. However, I’m still absolutely disappointed in the administration of my alma mater. I will never donate money to the University of North Texas again, and I will be looking at other Universities when I start applying for graduate programs this year.

    Reply to this comment

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