University of Alabama Denies It Will Punish Students Who Protest Against Trump

November 7, 2019 Updated: November 7, 2019

The University of Alabama has denied reports that it will punish students who protest against President Trump at the upcoming Crimson Tide football game against Louisiana State University.

Trump is set to make an appearance at the event at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 9 and an email was subsequently issued to students to warn them that additional security would be put in place.

The email, issued by the Vice President of the Student Government Association, Jason Rothfarb, read: “Additional security will also be in the student section during the game.

“Any organizations that engage in disruptive behavior during the game will be removed from block seating instantly from the remainder of the season.”

However, no mention of President Trump was made in the email whatsoever.

Following the email, Alabama local news outlet, Al.com published a story which appeared to suggest that students would be punished if they were to protest the president’s appearance at the event in any way.

The article, which has since been updated, was originally titled “UA SGA: Trump protest may cost students seats.”

It was also shared on Twitter with the caption: “The Alabama SGA warns groups: Protest Trump during the LSU game and risk losing your reserved seating,” and quickly went viral after being shared by thousands.

Twitter user Carter-William, who shared the email, claimed he had “never once been warned not to be ‘disruptive’ during a football game at the university.

“Is screaming ‘[expletive] Auburn’ not disruptive? Is booing the other team not disruptive? Is specifically screaming as loud as possible not disruptive? Or is it only disruptive when students express their displeasure with the President of the United States?” he wrote.

Other Twitter users also commented on the post, sharing their grievances with the email, with one person branding it “1940s style censorship,” while another wrote: “Booing is not disruptive! It is free speech!”

Following backlash over the email, Jason Rothfarb issued a follow-up statement on social media.

He wrote on Twitter: “Some have misinterpreted my comment regarding ‘disruptive behavior.’ As with other games this season, Organization’s Block Seating locations will be clearly marked, but at certain times, other students can and should have access to open seats.

“By disruptive behavior, we are asking students to be respectful to all students and staff and avoid altercations. My email has nothing do with anyone’s First Amendment rights and I am sorry for any confusion.”

“Please express yourself and especially your pride for the Tide,” he added.

In a separate statement, Jackson Fuentes, SGA Press Secretary, said: “The SGA strongly affirms its belief in free speech and the rights of all students to express their opinions. Today’s report erroneously assigned a political context to a message meant only to remind students about heightened security and the consequences of altercations or other behaviors unbecoming of a University of Alabama student, as defined in the Capstone Creed.

“We look forward to cheering on the Crimson Tide, alongside the student body, on Saturday afternoon.”

Meanwhile, Alabama Media Group has since updated their story to clarity that Jason Rothfarb was referencing “disruptions and not protests.”

President Trump’s appearance at the event will mark his second visit to the state this year.

In March, he and First Lady Melania Trump traveled to Lee County to survey tornado damage where he met with first responders, survivors, and local officials.

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