University of Nebraska – Lincoln: Lecturer Dismissed After Showing Middle Finger During Protest

Category: Cases
Schools: University of Nebraska – Lincoln

In August, 2017, a University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) student set up a table to recruit for Turning Point USA, a conservative organization that operates a controversial “Professor Watchlist.” Courtney Lawton, a lecturer and graduate student at UNL, joined a professor in holding a demonstration beside the tabling event, calling on passersby to “fight nationalism, fight white supremacy.” The student videotaped Lawton, who responded with a middle-finger and said “Neo-fascist Becky right here . . . wants to destroy public schools, public universities, hates DACA kids.” As criticism mounted online and from state legislators, UNL removed Lawton from teaching duties and publicly announced that it would not renew her contract. On December 8, 2017, FIRE wrote to UNL asking the university to reinstate Lawton’s employment.

  • Free speech group asks UNL to reinstate fired lecturer

    December 15, 2017

    By Chris Dunker at Lincoln Journal Star An organization identified by three state senators as a resource to review free speech policies and practices at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln asked university leaders to reinstate a graduate student fired from her teaching duties last month.  Read more here.

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  • FIRE’s response to Nebraska state senators

    December 19, 2017

    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been embroiled in a free speech controversy since late summer. In August, a video recording surfaced of a university employee telling student Kaitlyn Mullen her Turning Point USA recruitment table had to be moved to a campus “free speech zone” or police would be called. Now, three state senators have weighed in, further complicating the situation for free speech on that campus. For those who haven’t been following the controversy, here’s a recap of the event that piqued the legislators’ interest: After TPUSA began its tabling in an outdoor area of campus, the footage shows […]

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  • FIRE asks University of Nebraska-Lincoln to reinstate graduate student

    December 11, 2017

    This past Friday, FIRE wrote a letter to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, asking UNL to allow a graduate student, Courtney Lawton, to resume teaching duties after her teaching duties were terminated following a campus protest. Members of the UNL chapter of Turning Point USA were recruiting for their group outside of the so-called “free speech zone” and were approached by a UNL employee who threatened to call police on the group unless they moved to the free speech zone. The employee also said that students were not allowed to hand out “propaganda.” UNL officials later clarified that UNL does not […]

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