Texas state leaders weigh in on YCT protest as students claim free speech violations

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Photo Credit: Nikita Sveshnikov | Daily Texan Staff

State lawmakers have begun to weigh in on Young Conservatives of Texas’ demonstration in support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh yesterday, calling for the University to do more to protect the free speech rights of students.

On Wednesday afternoon, State Sen. Paul Bettencourt tweeted that he had spoken with UT officials in support of YCT’s right to free speech.

Following the protest, YCT issued a statement on its Facebook page Wednesday morning criticizing the University’s response to the event and requesting meetings with top administrative officials such as UT President Greg Fenves. YCT Chairman Saurabh Sharma said the organization would reach out to members of the Texas legislature if their requests were not met.

“If our concerns aren’t engaged with, we will have no choice but to approach our allies in the Texas Legislature who are watching with dismay as the campuses owned by the state descend into inhospitable environments for anyone with a dissident viewpoint,” Saurabh said in the statement.

YCT’s protest occurred yesterday morning, and resulted in several altercations. Members of the organization set up a booth on the West Mall and displayed signs with messages of support for Kavanaugh. A group of roughly 50 to 70 onlookers and counter-protesters formed around the table, and some began to remove signs from YCT members and break them apart.

Kavanaugh testified in front of Congress last week in response to sexual assault allegations from Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University. Two other women, Julie Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez, have also accused him of sexual misconduct.

Senate leadership moved to postpone a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation in order to allow an FBI investigation to take place. The FBI has been given a deadline of Oct. 5, and is currently interviewing witnesses, according to The New York Times.