63°F
weather icon Overcast

UNLV alum Tomi Lahren of Fox News draws protest at campus speech

Updated October 10, 2019 - 5:54 am

Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech titled “Stay Triggered” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside.

The event, hosted by conservative organization Turning Point USA at UNLV, came days after students at University of Nevada, Reno protested TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk being invited to their campus.

University police and administrators were present at the UNLV event, which was open to the public.

In her speech, Lahren touched on support for law enforcement and critiqued several Democratic presidential candidates, but took aim at what she described as a culture of victimhood prevalent on college campuses. Lahren graduated from UNLV in 2014.

Attendees CJ Campbell and Andrew Snow, who described themselves as fans of Lahren’s, said they heard about the event the day before at a booth on campus.

“It was like, oh wow, we’re here, let’s hear what she has to say,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he was drawn to a slogan on the flyer promoting the talk: “Worry less about who you might offend and pay attention to who you might inspire.”

Outside, a group of about 30 protesters held signs and chanted slogans as Lahren and others walked in. They stayed through the end of the event and traded verbal jabs with departing attendees.

Tyler Chalker, who organized the protest, said he wanted his fellow students to feel comfortable demonstrating against what he called hate speech. While Chalker said he would not support banning speakers from campus, he would instead want students to challenge them.

Chalker said that he is opposed to Turning Point USA, whose history at UNLV has been marked by racist incidents, including the ouster of a former president who flashed a white power hand sign in a viral video. Chalker said he is also opposed to Lahren because of her support of President Donald Trump.

“I worry that our tuition money is being used to bring people to campus who champion hate speech,” Chalker said, referring to student fees collected by the student government and doled out to campus clubs.

A number of bystanders observed the protests, including Dante Miller, a graduate student studying black conservatives in the age of Trump. Miller said the event and the reaction were on par with others he’d seen at college campuses, though UNLV’s status as one of the most diverse schools in the nation provided a unique context.

UNLV President Marta Meana was unavailable to comment Wednesday on the event, but she said in a panel on free speech Friday that while public campuses may not be able to ban controversial speakers, they could make their own stances clear.

In a letter to the campus dated Sept. 18, Meana also said: “Individuals advocating for a position, regardless of how presumptuous or offensive others may find it to be, does not necessarily cross into unlawful activity.”

Steph Landeros, a bystander, said such a response from university leadership was mediocre. Students at UNR have also expressed frustration with university leadership, whom they say has not adequately addressed other incidents of white nationalism on campus.

“We’re always discussing freedom of speech, but never the consequences of it,” Landeros said. “You may have a right to speak, but other people have the right to respond to you.”

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at aappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0218. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
RJ Politics Podcast with Deval Patrick - VIDEO
2020 Presidential Candidate Deval Patrick joins hosts Rory Appleton and Steve Sebelius on the RJ Politics Podcast.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
Biden meets with Vegas Latino community - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden met with members of the Latino community at Rancho High School. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson, other Nevada cities consent to refugee resettlement - VIDEO
Henderson will continue to welcome refugees for resettlement, according to a December letter from Mayor Debra March. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg Speaks At Black Empowerment Event - Video
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a black empowerment event to talk about his Douglass plan.
Joe Biden at the national hospitality workers union.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the national hospitality workers union during UNITE HERE's town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas. @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren at Culinary Union
Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, 2019.
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
THE LATEST