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College Campuses and Free Speech

These days it’s more about the messenger than the message.

Accent Speakers Bureau, University of Florida (Photo: Facebook)
Accent Speakers Bureau, University of Florida (Photo: Facebook)

Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.

— Steve’s Marketplace —

The message was uplifting, even inspirational. It was about setting lofty goals, working hard and achieving them. You think it would have been received with cheers from the University of Florida students, but it met mostly jeers.

The speaker at the UF auditorium last week happened to be broadcaster Kimberly Guilfoyle, appearing alongside her boyfriend Donald Trump Jr. So that would explain the icy reception in the Florida heat. These days, sadly, it’s more about the messenger than it is the message.

Anybody even remotely affiliated with the Trump family is greeted with hostility at college campuses, even though a roaring job market is favorable for graduates. The rub is that UF is a major recipient of state funds, made up in large part by tax dollars paid by you and me.

For free speech to be denied in this manner is a travesty of taxpayer funds – because of some political difference. Of 800 people in attendance, about one-third of them reacted with disruptive screeches and even chants of “bull—.” Others sat politely and listened, while many chanted “USA” to out-cheer the jeers.

The 100 protesters outside the auditorium also made their opposition clearly known through their picket signs and chants. And, again, this is a Florida state university permitting such rude conduct.

Local elected officials also attended the scheduled speech. They hardly were impressed by the students’ performance. However, they did enjoy the messages from Guilfoyle and from Trump Jr.

Trump Jr. spoke mostly about his father’s accomplishments as president. Guilfoyle handled the motivational aspects. She is the daughter of immigrants and grew up poor. She got accepted to law school and paid her own way. She reached stardom as a co-host of “The Five” show on Fox News.

 “I’ve never been a victim,” she says unapologetically. “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

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Steve Nicklas Financial Advisor
Steve Nicklas, Financial Advisor

Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor for a U.S. brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns appear regularly in several newspapers in North Florida and South Georgia, and on his website. He has also published a book, “All About Money,” consisting of some of his favorite columns over the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected].)