The evolution of the Kent State gun girl

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The famous photo from Kaitlin Bennett’s graduation photoset. Last Tuesday Kaitlin Bennett visited Ohio University and was met with riots.  @kait.meow

The famous photo from Kaitlin Bennett’s graduation photoset. Last Tuesday Kaitlin Bennett visited Ohio University and was met with riots. @kait.meow

Last Tuesday, Kaitlin Bennett was trending on Twitter after being met with riots during her visit to Ohio University. While trying to film a segment for her YouTube channel, Liberty Hangout, Bennett was bombarded by Ohio students who made it clear that her presence was unwelcome. With such heavy backlash on Bennett’s controversial methods of displaying her political opinions, especially from college students, I thought it would be important to spread awareness of the situation. 

You probably know her better as the Kent State Gun Girl. Kaitlin Bennett’s media debut was undoubtedly her graduation photoset featuring an AR-10 rifle strapped to her back. In her YouTube video, “How My Graduation Photo Changed My Life,” she explains how her motive for the vexed decision actually came from her brother’s idea. 

“Since Kent State’s policy prohibits students from carrying firearms on campus, but not guests, Justin said I should come back to campus with a rifle after I graduate to show how I couldn’t even conceal-carry my handgun as a student, but could come back with an AR-10 and a 30-round magazine strapped to my back later that same day.” 

Since then, Bennett has changed the structure of her YouTube channel to visiting protests, parades and college campuses to interview pedestrians. Many have criticized the nature of her questions as they are interpreted to help support her own opinions rather than accepting others’. Questions like “What do you think about putting urinals in the women’s restroom?” and “Should we put tampons in the men’s restroom?” have become infamously linked to Bennett. Her tendencies to ask questions regarding gender and sexuality have been denounced on social media for her designation to filter out certain answers, only to question or deny those who do not comply. 

Bennett’s manner of interviewing is not the only thing that has been the topic of such scrutiny. Clips of her saying controversial statements, including claiming to be a woman of color, have circulated online, resulting in even more backlash regarding her defense against protesters. Because of this, students are becoming aware of her campus visits, resulting in events such as Ohio University. 

People from both sides have conveyed their thoughts on last week’s fiasco on social media. Many expressed their support for the protesters while others have reprimanded the aggressiveness shown in video clips of the incident, condemning the animalistic actions of the students. 

“This is what happens when a Conservative woman named Kaitlin Bennett goes to Ohio University. This what happens when you send your children off to the majority of colleges in this country. They become a bunch of drooling, pitch fork wielding lunatics,” a tweet from Kash Jackson reads.  

The Kaitlin Bennett situation has generated backlash on extreme ends of the spectrum. Despite the wide uproar that is induced from all media platforms, she makes it clear that she does not plan on stopping any time soon. I can only imagine what it would be like if she came to UConn. 


Esther Ju is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. They can be reached via email at esther.ju@uconn.edu.

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