West Texas A&M University president provides rationale for on-campus drag show cancellation in letter to students, staff and faculty
Update (March 21, 4:04 p.m.)
In an additional petition, posted on the Conservative Change website on Tuesday, students from the West Texas A&M University branch of the Young Texas Conservatives, along with other members of the community, voice their support for Wendler, stating that they “stand with Dr. Wendler and WTAMU is going to ban drag shows on campus.
In the petition, which around 4 p.m. Tuesday had 215 signatures, the community member asks the public to sign the petition to “encourage Dr. Wendler and the WTAMU not to be swayed by the angry voices of those who oppose the truth”. about drag shows.
“We are not alone in our fight for true freedom and we must support those who seek to defend it,” the webpage reads.
Update (March 21, 11:20 a.m.)
MyHighPlains.com has reached out to officials at West Texas A&M University, seeking clarification on how Wendler’s letter aligns with expressive activity approved on campus rules at member academic institutions of the Texas A&M University System.
According to documents found on the West Texas A&M University website, it comes after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 18, adding a “protected expression on campus” clause to the college’s code. Texas Education, with the goal of “ensuring that all people can gather peacefully on the campuses of institutions of higher education for self-expression activities.
In Section 1.3 of the Expressive Activity on Campus document of the system, it is stated:
“The university may not take action against a student organization or deny the organization any benefit generally available to other student organizations at the university on the basis of a political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic expressed by the organization or any expressive expression. organization activities.
In response to this request for comment, university officials said they would provide “no further comment due to ongoing litigation.”
MyHighPlains.com has also contacted officials at the Texas A&M University System regarding this letter. The TAMU system did not return the request for comment.
Update (March 21, 10:37 a.m.)
Members of the community started a petition on Change.Org, raising awareness for the reinstatement of the drag show mentioned in Wendler’s letter on Monday.
According to the petition, the community member who started the petition stated that “the avoidance of this performance constitutes an indirect attack on the LGBT+, feminist and WTAMU student body activist communities…”
“We the students of WTAMU hope to bring this matter to Dr. Wendler’s attention and urge him to restore the drag show on campus,” the petition reads. “We’re running this drag show whether we have his support or not, but his extreme lack of compassion for the LGBT+ and activist student population on campus comes through with this latest email.”
By 10:30 a.m. Monday, more than 2,300 community members had signed the online petition.
Update: (March 21, 6:40 a.m.)
CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to a social media post by Open and Affirmation Congregations of the Texas Panhandle, which called Wendler’s letter “disappointing and infuriating,” students at West Texas A&M University should demonstrate throughout the week at 12 p.m. pm every day next to the campus fountain.
The organization noted that the protesters “would appreciate the support of any allies and community members able to join them.”
CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In a letter Monday to students, faculty, and staff at West Texas A&M University, obtained by MyHighPlains.com, West Texas A&M University President Walter Wendler announced that a drag show scheduled for later this month will not happen, stating that drag shows exaggerated and stereotypical women in “cartoon-like extremes”.
According to an Instagram post from the university’s student organization Spectrum, a student organization for LGBTQIA+ students and allies at the university, the group, along with a number of other student organizations, were recruiting for an upcoming drag show scheduled for March 31.
In his letter, Wendler said an event had been announced for March 31 to raise money for The Trevor Project. According to its website, The Trevor Project is a nonprofit organization that focuses on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth.
Wendler said in the letter that he believes drag shows do not preserve “a single thread of human dignity”, stating that they discriminate against femininity.
“WT strives to treat all people equally. Drag shows are derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny, regardless of the stated intent,” Wendler said in the letter. “Such conduct defeats the purpose of WT. A person or group should not attempt to elevate themselves or a cause by making fun of another person or group. As a university president, I would not support “blackface” performances on our campus, even if the performance is said to be a form of free speech or intended for humor. It is not true. I do not support any show, performance or artistic expression that denigrates others – in this case, women – for any reason.
Wendler goes on to say that it is unacceptable to mock or objectify members “of any group because of their appearance, biases, or predispositions.” At the end of the letter, Wendler cites the goal of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, stating that workplace bias, which Wendler said he believes drag shows are, is “harmful and totally inappropriate” even if they are not criminal.
“No amount of fancy rhetorical footwork or legal phrasing escapes the fact that drag shows denigrate and belittle women, despite the lofty goals,” Wendler said at the end of the letter. “A harmless drag show? Not possible. I won’t seem to condone the belittlement of one group at the expense of sassy gestures toward another group for any reason, even when the law of the land seems to require it. Supporting the Trevor Project is a good idea. My recommendation is to skip the show and send the dough. Offering respect, not ridicule, is the order of the day for fair play and it is the WT way. And just as important is the West Texas Way.
MyHighPlains.com contacted Wendler’s office for additional comment regarding this letter and Wendler’s office declined request for comment.
Take a look below at Wendler’s full letter: