Herbst responds to Wintrich event

Although the speech was, according to some students, biased, others say they are glad Herbst released a statement. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Nearly 48 hours after Gateway Pundit commentator Lucian Wintrich was arrested at an event hosted by the University of Connecticut’s College Republicans, UConn President Susan Herbst responded, releasing a statement to the university in an email Thursday evening.

“The core principals [sic] of our institution are rooted in intellectual pursuits based on reason, thoughtful debate, and free and open argument. No aspect of what took place on Tuesday reflected this,” Herbst said. “Tuesday was a test for our campuses, and we will be tested again.” 

Herbst said she is continually working to find a strategy to navigate events like Tuesday’s in the future while still promoting free speech.

“Since Tuesday, I have been meeting with students, faculty, and staff to discuss ways in which we can support and encourage a climate of elevated, respectful intellectual discourse and argument on our campuses – especially among those who hold opposing views,” Herbst said.

Herbst emphasized the importance of free speech in the country and in universities.

“Why would a university allow someone like Lucian Wintrich to speak on campus at all? Because free speech is rooted in the First Amendment and is vital to our democracy,” Herbst said. “Our nation was founded on it. And it is by challenging those we disagree with in a free and open environment that falsehoods can be answered with truth and right can defeat wrong, for all to see and hear.”  

Students said, however, that the statement was biased.

“You could tell that she was biased,” Lillian Jackson, first-semester finance major, said.  “I wish that, coming from the president of UConn, there would be a little bit less of a bias and more of a professional tone, although I understand why it is important to make those who don’t believe in the speaker feel comfortable and still feel accepted at this university.”

Although the speech was, according to some students, biased, others say they are glad Herbst released a statement.

“Herbst made a valiant effort; it’s a hard situation to address,” Emma Swanson, first-semester speech language pathology major, said. “She tried to be as unbiased as she could be. She did her duty of emailing students her opinion and giving an inspirational outlook at the end.”

Aside from alleged bias, other students feel as though Herbst was in the wrong by releasing her statement so late after the event.

“I found it unsettling that the next morning there was an email from President Herbst about our new school Vice President instead of the events of the previous night,” Sheila Huggins, first-semester pre-teaching major, said.

An email regarding the hiring of a new Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs was sent just 12 hours after the arrest of Wintrich.


Luke Hajdasz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at luke.hajdasz@uconn.edu.