The University of Florida staff and students are divided over a student-led organization’s decision to invite one of the president’s sons, Donald Trump Jr., and former Fox News host Kim Guilfoyle to speak at the university next week.
Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle, a senior adviser to the president’s 2020 re-election campaign, will be paid $50,000 from student activity fees for the October 10 event, The Independent Florida Alligator, the daily student newspaper of the University of Florida, reported.
Reaction was swift and mixed on the Facebook page of ACCENT Speakers Bureau, the student organization planning the event.
Abby Solomon wrote: “As a former ACCENT Vice Chair I am extremely disappointed in the decision to invite Donald Trump Jr to speak. What value does his presence add to the student body? ACCENT’s purpose is to challenge the student body and consider new ideas. Instead, this man will regurgitate factually incorrect White House talking points and ultimately fuel further political divides.”
Another student, Brian Murphy said, “I appreciate the attempt to bring in different opinions to campus however a divisive speaker who peddles conspiracy theories and has a moral deficiency would not have been my first choice.”
But a former student offered support for the event. “Not a Trump supporter, but ACCENT has ‘controversial speakers’ in its mission statement and has brought in speakers from all over the political spectrum. This obviously fits that criteria. If you don’t want to go, don’t,” Jared Schermer said.
Speakers Bureau defense
The head of the ACCENT Speakers Bureau also defended the group’s decision.
“Part of our mission is to engage the UF campus community in discussions on important issues by bringing prominent, influential and, oftentimes, controversial speakers to campus,” Henry Fair said in an email to The Alligator.
A group of students are organizing a protest ahead of the speech. The Protest: Say NO to Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle Facebook page has 305 people who say they will be going and another 816 who are interested.
The money paid to Trump and Guilfoyle is not atypical for what ACCENT Speakers Bureau pays their guests. Recent speakers include business investor Kevin O’Leary, who was paid $95,000, and music artist Armando Christian Pérez, better known as Pitbull, who was paid $130,000, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The 50-year-old student organization hosted liberal activist Ralph Nader and conservative politician Richard Nixon as their first guests in 1967.