WTAMU President Provides Reasoning For Canceling On-Campus Drag Show In Letter To Students, Staff, Faculty

Update (March 21, 4:04pm)

In an additional petition, posted on the Conservative Change website Tuesday, students at the West Texas A&M University branch of Young Texas Conservatives, as well as other community members, are voicing their support for Wendler, saying they “Stay with Dr. Wendler and WTAMU to ban drag shows on campus.

In the petition, which at around 4pm Tuesday has 215 signatures, the community member asks the public to sign the petition to “encourage Dr. Wendler and WTAMU not to be swayed by the angry voices of those who oppose the truth about drag shows.”

“We are not alone in our fight for true freedom and we must support those who are trying to defend it,” the webpage reads.

Update (March 21, 11:20am)

MyHighPlains.com reached out to West Texas A&M University officials, asking for clarification on how Wendler’s letter aligns with the approved campus rules expressive activity by member academic institutions of the Texas A&M University System.

According to documents found on the West Texas A&M University website, this comes after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 18, adding a “Protected Expression on Campus” clause to the Texas Education Code, intending to “ensure that all people can peacefully gather on campuses of higher learning institutions for expressive activities”.

In section 1.3 of the document “Expressive Activity on Campus” of the system we read:

“The university may not take action against a student organization or deny the organization any advantages generally available to other student organizations at the university based on a political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic viewpoint expressed by the organization or of any expression expressive activity of the organization”.

In response to this request for comment, university officials said they would not provide “any further comment due to ongoing litigation.”

MyHighPlains.com also reached out to Texas A&M University System officials regarding this letter. The TAMU System did not return the request for comment.

Update (March 21, 10:37am)

Community members have started a petition on Change.Org, raising awareness for the reinstatement of the drag show mentioned in Wendler’s Monday letter.

According to the petition, the community member who started the petition said that “the rejection of this performance constitutes an indirect attack on the LGBT+, feminist, and WTAMU student body activist communities…”

“We, the students of WTAMU, hope to bring this issue to the attention of Dr. Wendler and urge him to restore the drag show on campus,” the petition reads. “We are putting on this drag show, whether we have his support or not, but his extreme lack of compassion for the LGBT+ student population and activist on campus shows in this latest email.”

At around 10:30 on Monday, more than 2,300 community members signed the online petition.

Update: (March 21, 6:40am)

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to a social media post by the Open and Affirming Congregations of the Texas Panhandle, which called Wendler’s letter “disappointing and galling,” students at West Texas A&M University are expected to demonstrate throughout the week at 12 pm every day next to the campus fountain.

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The organization noted that the protesters “would appreciate the support of any allies and community members able to join them”.

Original Story:

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In a letter sent Monday to West Texas A&M University students, faculty and staff, obtained by MyHighPlains.com, West Texas A&M University President Walter Wendler announced that a drag queen is scheduled for later this month won’t happen, stating her view that drag showcases exaggerated and stereotypical women in “cartoonish extremes.”

According to an Instagram post by the university’s Spectrum student organization, a student organization for the university’s LGBTQIA+ students and allies, the group, along with a number of other student organizations, were recruiting for an upcoming drag-in show. schedule for March 31st.

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In his letter, Wendler said an event was advertised for March 31 as an attempt to raise money for The Trevor Project. According to her website, The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that focuses on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth.

Wendler said in the letter that he believes drag shows do not preserve “a single thread of human dignity,” saying it discriminates against femininity.

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“WT is committed to treating all people equally. Drag shows are derisive, divisive, and demoralizing misogyny, regardless of the stated intent,” Wendler said in the letter. “Such conduct goes against the purpose of WT. A person or group should not attempt to uplift themselves or a cause by mocking another person or group. As president of the university, I would not support “blackface” performances on our campus, even if I am told that performance is a form of free speech or intended as humor. That is wrong. I do not support anyone show, performance or artistic expression that denigrates others, in this case women, for any reason”.

Wendler goes on to say that mocking or objectifying members “of any group based on appearance, prejudice or predisposition is unacceptable.” At the end of the letter, Wendler cites the purpose of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying workplace bias, which Wendler said he believes drag shows are, is “harmful and wholly inappropriate.” even if it is not criminal.

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“No amount of fancy rhetorical footwork or legal wording escapes the fact that drag shows denigrate and demean women, despite noble goals,” Wendler said at the end of the letter. “An innocuous drag show? Not possible. I will not seem to condone diminution of any group at the expense of impertinent gestures to another group for any reason, even when the law of the land seems to require it. Supporting the Trevor project is a good idea. My recommendation is to skip the show and send in the pasta. Offering respect, not ridicule, is the order of the day for fair play and it’s the WT way. And equally important, is the West Texas route.

MyHighPlains.com contacted Wendler’s office for additional comments on this letter, and Wendler’s office declined a request for comment.

Check out Wendler’s full letter below:

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