UCCS says flyer denigrating veterans was not approved by the university

By: Debbie Kelley

August 28, 2017 Updated: 2 minutes ago
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Last Friday, UCCS Chancellor Verkat Reddy posted a letter on bulletin boards at UCCS in relation to another letter that was posted that opposed having veterans at UCCS. In Reddy’s letter, it said that UCCS opposed the views of the former letter, but respected the First Amendment rights of the letter writer. In the lower right hand corner of Reddy’s letter was the UCCS stamp of approval to post the letter. Monday, August 28, 2017. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

In response to a flyer denigrating military veterans that circulated last week at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, a student veteran panel will address concerns and answer questions from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The event will be held in room 302 of the University Center and is open to the public.

An article went up Thursday on a communal board at the student center, stating military veterans should be banned from four-year universities such as UCCS because they are harming the schools.

“Their socialization into the military culture is that of a white supremacist organization,” reads the flyer.

The material said that “all veterans have far right-wing ideologies” and that veterans mock lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people.

University officials determined that the person listed as the author, Terry Steinawitz, is not a student, staff or faculty member, said campus spokesman Tom Hutton. The title of the material, “Social Justice Collective,” is not a recognized UCCS group, he said.

The flyer created confusion, Hutton said, with some people mistakenly thinking it was a university-sanctioned publication.

The university did not endorse or approve the flyer but time-stamped it as to when it was posted at the university center, he said, as materials are limited to how long they can remain.

UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy issued a response, saying while the university recognizes First Amendment rights of people to freely express their views, “even when those viewpoints are offensive to many in our community,” the flyer contained views that are against the law.

“UCCS does not discriminate against veterans,” Reddy said in the statement. “But even more fundamentally, UCCS does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, creed, veteran status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, political affiliation or political philosophy.”

And, he said, the campus subscribes to a “guiding principle” of providing “an outstanding, respectful, and responsive living, learning, teaching and working environment.”

For many years, several publications, including G.I. Jobs, have named UCCS as one of the top universities in the nation for supporting students associated with the military. UCCS received a “gold level” military-friendly school designation this year.

Of the more than 12,000 students, about 2,000 are veterans and active-duty military, Hutton said.

The campus’ newest building, the McCord Herbst Student Veteran Center, caters to such students.

Phillip Morris, director of the UCCS Office of Veteran and Military Student Affairs, reiterated the chancellor’s message.

“We’re always going to support our military community and value their contributions,” he said. “UCCS does not endorse the content (of the flyer), and on the other hand, the university does not censor content for public spaces.”

The university has fielded “a few” complaints, Hutton said.

Morris said the veterans’ office on campus has had an “outpouring of support” for its work in helping past and present members of the military further their education.

“Our veterans do really well academically – our entire campus understands our veterans and military students are high-achieving students,” he said. “There was never any doubt about it.”