Cherise Trump has spoken at many college campuses, but she has never had to get event insurance for a talk, until she came to speak at Trinity. Cherise is the executive director of Speech First, a nonprofit that defends the First Amendment rights of college students, but because her last name is Trump, despite sharing no relation with the President, Trinity considered her an elevated risk.
Jennifer Adamo, Trinity’s director of Risk Management, warned about the possibility of “disruption.” The talk posed an “elevated risk,” she told Ellis Jacoby, the chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas Trinity, in a February 20 email, because “there is potential for others to mistakenly believe that Cherise Trump is related to Donald Trump.”
Trump—who did end up buying a $76 plan—called the request “ridiculous.”
“Trinity should be fostering a campus environment that encourages its students to hear differing ideas without turning to mob violence,” she said. “Not only does this show that the university has little faith in its students’ ability to use the internet, it also coddles and shields students from opposing viewpoints.”
Asking for liability insurance is an unusual ask for a speaker, Ellis Jacoby noted that Trinity required no other previous speaker they had brought to buy liability insurance, even ones that talked about more controversial topics like Critical Race Theory or immigration. “Risk Management said its ‘best practice to request insurance for all events in which third parties are brought in,’ but that has not been the case until now for some reason.”
Those subjects are “more controversial than free speech,” Ellis wrote. “I haven’t had any problems with any protests or disturbances at any events I’ve hosted on campus, so I don’t think there’s a chance of anything happening at this event.”
When the event actually occurred on Friday, March 3rd, there were no protesters in sight, and the talk proceeded without issue.
Cherise outlined how free speech on college campuses is under assault today. Bias reporting systems are one tool that has been used to stifle free speech, as anonymous reports of “bias incidents” are reported to boards that then reprimand violators. Political speech and satire are particularly vulnerable because these systems favor students who easily take offense. Cherise noted a dramatic decrease in students who are willing to make any public political positions, as many students now either fear speaking up or don’t care enough to take positions.
She noted the rising influence of DEI in hiring professors, DEI statements that professors have to sign, and the use of sexual harassment allegations to fire tenured professors who speak against leftist postions. The Biden Administration is also making changes to Title IX so that it will soon include gender identity, essentially making not using someone’s correct pronouns tantamount to sexual harassment. The only way to push back against these and other changes is to hold university’s accountable, and embarrass them and sue them when they restrict free speech Cherise argued at the end of her talk .
“It’s ironic” Ellis noted, “Trinity was trying to impede Cherise from giving a talk about how universities are restricting free speech”.