We broke the story right here
, and it’s been all over the place: Samantha Pfefferle, a student who had been admitted to Marquette for the fall semester posted a video touting her support for Donald Trump, and leftists on social media took offense. They searched her posts, and found some politically incorrect opinions: she opposed illegal immigration and refused to accept transgender ideology. A massive e-mail campaign from leftists put her admission in doubt.
But now, Marquette is trying to imply that her admission was never really in doubt, without actually saying so.
Marquette’s First Lie
Marquette send out an e-mail on July 22, touting a PolitiFact article, claiming:
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel PolitiFact analysis rated “mostly false” a claim that Marquette University threatened to rescind an incoming student’s admission for views she expressed on social media.
Here is the blurb from the Marquette e-mail:
But in fact, the article assesses the claim that “Marquette University threatened to rescind student’s admission over pro-Trump TikTok video.”
The pro-Trump post was not at issue. Marquette and the people complaining to the university were examining comments on topics like sexuality and immigration in other social media posts.
In other words, it was
her political views that got her in trouble with the Marquette Admissions office.
In fact, Marquette told the New York Post
that “Concerns about this new student that were brought to the university’s attention were not based on political affiliation but on alleged use of discriminatory language.” In the world of politically correct identity politics, “discriminatory language” is pretty much any conservative political position.
How the Issue Developed
The student’s admission came into doubt when a leftist Marquette student named Erin Cook noticed the pro-Trump TikTok video. She described it as “Shits tacky. Pls watch out for this one, MU.”
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Going over Pfefferle’s other posts, she found the heretical opinions on immigration and transgenderism, and started a campaign to have her admission cancelled
Was Pfefferle Threatened?
Marquette told PolitiFact
“Marquette received hundreds of emails, social media messages and formal bias-incident reports from current students, alumni and others regarding the incoming student’s social media posts and her comments on social media, which some deemed to be ‘transphobic and racist’ language,” university spokeswoman Lynn Griffith told PolitiFact Wisconsin in an email. “The concerns brought to us by hundreds of students and non-students were not specific to that (pro-Trump) TikTok. Rather, the messages and formal bias incident reports referenced other posts on the student’s social channels.”
Translation: it was indeed her political opinions that caused Marquette to consider cancelling her. The fact that there were “hundreds” of people in a leftist mob — most apparently claiming an connection with Marquette — is utterly appalling.
Pfefferle knew about the campaign against her, and had indeed received many harassing and threatening messages.
And Marquette had indeed recently cancelled a student for an “offensive” social media post
. The student compared the cop who knelt on George Floyd’s neck to Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the National Anthem.
That’s a stupid analogy, but not much more stupid than that of a Marquette English professor who compared looting and rioting in the wake of George Floyd’s death to the Boston Tea Party
Further, if you show me an 18 year-old who never makes stupid analogies, I’ll show you somebody who probably doesn’t need
a college education.
But the leftist mob, having gotten one scalp, smelled blood, and was after Pfefferle. Pfefferle knew about all this.
And indeed, Erin Cook, after the attempt to oust Pfefferle failed, said that she thought that, after the successful attempt to oust one student, this attempt would succeed.
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When leftists begin to bombard Marquette with demands that Pfefferle be cancelled, the Admissions office, rather than simply responding that “we don’t cancel students over political opinions,” promised to “review the situation and take appropriate action.” Erin Cook posted the response she got from Admissions Dean Brian Troyer:
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Pfefferle was then interviewed via Zoom by two Marquette officials, Admissions Dean Brian Troyer and Erin Lazzar (Associate Dean of Students). She has given several consistent accounts of what happened.
First, she was reminded she was “not a student.” And, according to The College Fix
“They also asked me hypothetical questions regarding Dreamers,” she said. “How would I respond if a Dreamer who lived down the hall from me came up to me and told me she didn’t feel safe or comfortable with my views and me being on campus. They also asked me if they thought there was anything I could do to improve my image on campus. They proceeded to ask if I was comfortable with the reputation I have established for myself. The assistant dean asked if I put any thought into the response I would be getting from my videos.”
Further, she was told by Lazzar
“The content you are pushing out has created this environment that is contrary to a learning environment that we hope our students are engaged in.” What kind of “learning environment” is that? Perhaps one where leftist views are never challenged?
The interrogation was on Wednesday, June 24. They told her they would get back to her in a couple of days.
Marquette claims Pfefferle was “never threatened.” Indeed, Pfefferle doesn’t claim that anybody told her “we might kick you out.”
But was she right to feel threatened?
Given the context, absolutely.
But Was Her Admission Really Under Threat?
When the weekend came, and she had no response, she went to a conservative Marquette student activist, who came to us, and we blogged about it on Sunday night
It was picked up by local talk radio, with Marquette getting chewed out by:
Other outlets picked it up, but somewhat slowly, most only reporting on it the following week. But local talk radio is plenty powerful enough to get Marquette’s attention.
When other media outlets became interested, and Marquette went into full damage control mode, they put out several non-denial denials, claiming (as we have seen) that she was under attack for alleged “discriminatory language” which simply means she expressed politically incorrect opinions on immigration and transgenderism.
But then Marquette told the Daily Mail
Information circulating today from a blog that Marquette might rescind the admission of incoming freshman Samantha Pfefferle is false. Marquette has not rescinded her admissions offer.
Note the intention to deceive. After Marquette had backed down and told Pfefferle her admission status had not been revoked
(on July 6), Marquette put out (on July 8) that it was untrue that it might rescind Pfefferle’s admission. A dishonest evasion. The issue is whether Marquette had earlier
considered cancelling her. It clearly had.
The Smoking Gun
On Saturday, June 27 (the day before we blogged about it), we e-mailed Brian Troyer, asking him “What can you tell me about the attempt of leftist students to get the admissions offer of Samantha Pfefferle cancelled?”
His response at 10:38 a.m. the following day was “I cannot discuss matters under review
involving future and/or continuing MU students.” [emphasis added]
So her case was “under review.” The only issue that might be “under review” was her social media posts. Nobody had accused her of anything else.
The entire e-mail and his response is here
Troyer had no way of knowing that his honest response that Sunday morning would undermine Marquette’s later spin on the issue.
After the story broke here and on talk radio, Troyer failed to respond to an e-mail from Fr. Kurz (posted here on July 6
, but sent several days earlier) or our letter of June 30
. He (or Marquette PR people) could have responded saying the issue was moot, since she was not going to be cancelled. But apparently, the issue was not moot.
Quite obviously, they were still considering whether to boot Pfefferle.
Lovell and Damage Control
A leaked e-mail, dated July 8 that Marquette President Michael Lovell set to trustees has been published on PowerLine Blog
In it, Lovell says that:
We at Marquette then received many messages and bias incident reports about the language she [Pfefferle] used in her posts.
Here is an article about the trend at high schools and colleges around the country, especially in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
As is our practice when bias incidents are filed, Dean of Admissions Brian Troyer and Associate Dean of Students Erin Lazzar followed up by having a conversation with the incoming student. We did NOT rescind her offer nor was that even mentioned.
But it was clearly being considered
, and Pfefferle could plainly see that.
Following this conversation, however, the incoming student conducted interviews with blogs and talk radio where she inaccurately says that we threatened to rescind her admission.
She didn’t say any such thing, but she clearly knew that her admission was under threat.
Those blogs have been making the rounds for about a week, and one such link from powerlineblog.com has been more widely shared today.
This afternoon Donald Trump, Jr. retweeted an article from College Fix.
Since then, we have received messages on social media, mostly from people with no affiliation with Marquette, who want to express their anger about us “rescinding” her offer of admissions. We did correct misinformation with blogs that were spreading blatant falsehoods, though some still continue to share inaccurate headlines, links, and social media posts. We are also replying to Marquette alumni and those with a Marquette affiliation letting them know of the inaccuracy of the reports. That has satisfied most of the people we have engaged in the Marquette community.
Now the most damning:
After consultation with our external crisis communication consultants this afternoon we released the following statement [emphasis added]:
Marquette University’s admissions decisions are made based on academic achievements and student involvement, not political views. Information circulating today from a blog that Marquette might rescind the admission of incoming freshman Samantha Pfefferle is false. Marquette has not rescinded her admissions offer.
Yes, when you are the head of a bureaucracy that has done something evil, simply telling the honest truth won’t suffice. You need
“external crisis communication consultants.”
To state the obvious, an honest university administration would not need “external crisis communication consultants.”
Marquette did what it usually does: it pandered to the leftist mob, seriously considering whether to placate the mob by kicking out a student who had expressed politically incorrect opinions.
What they did not foresee was that Pfefferle was willing to fight back, first by coming to us, and then by interviewing with any media outlet interested in the story. A lot were.
Although the huge burst of national (and international) publicity came a day or two after July 6, when Troyer told her she had not been cancelled, the bureaucrats knew that she was willing to fight back, and could easily foresee that the story would go national and international.
When it did, they moved into damage control mode.