UNLV officials attend first classes since professor’s Trump shooting remarks

Updated October 12, 2017 - 8:54 pm

Two UNLV administrators attended Tessa Winkelmann’s History 407 class on Tuesday.

Their attendance came a few days after Winkelmann, an assistant history professor, assigned some of the blame for the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Strip to President Donald Trump.

“She said they were here in case there’s anyone in the class that needed to talk about it further,” said a student in her class, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “Nobody got up, but they waited outside until the class was over.”

While Andy Kirk, chairman of UNLV’s history department, and Chris Heavey, dean of the college of liberal arts, were present for her Tuesday class, the university has remained largely mum on the topic.

Winkelmann told her class on Oct. 5 that she had predicted “people will die” when Trump was elected president.

“Right when he got elected, I told my classes, three semesters ago, that some of us won’t be affected by this presidency, but others are going to die,” she said in a video taken by a student and obtained by the Review-Journal. “Other people will die because of this.”

The university called Winkelmann’s remarks “insensitive” in a statement last week but has declined to comment further.

A second UNLV student, who also wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said Winkelmann should have kept the comments out of the classroom but was more concerned with the chaos that ensued after she made them.

“It just seemed like the whole class was in chaos, and everyone was being really loud,” she said Thursday morning. “I was really uncomfortable.”

Joe Sanchez, a UNLV history major, said the situation in the class escalated, but he said Winkelmenn’s words “weren’t as bad as the video was trying to portray.”

“I walked out of that classroom not feeling offended at all,” he said.

Winkelmann apologized Friday in an email to the Review-Journal but declined to speak to a reporter outside her classroom on Thursday morning.

“This week has been very difficult for members of our community, and we have allowed students space in our classes to discuss how they have been affected and to openly convey their feelings,” she wrote. “I regret that my comments caused more pain during this difficult time. Emotions were running high and I wish I would have been more thoughtful in how I directed the conversation.”

Heavey and Kirk also declined to comment Thursday.

A UNLV student said he believes university administration appeared to be “more upset about the negative press, and not about the content of what she said.”

The student also took issue with Winkelmann’s apology, which he said felt hollow.

“She apologized for how students took it,” he said. “It’s condescending to a certain degree.”

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

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