SAN MARCOS, Texas – Texas State University officials say they made a mistake and that event organizers acted “without following university policy,” when they did not allow a video from U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett to be played in a university-sponsored program.
According to a report from The Austin American-Statesman, Doggett was asked to provide a pre-recorded speech, which would be shown at the 2021 Bobcat Community Inauguration Program.
The event also featured President Joe Biden’s Inauguration, but included guest speaker speeches to highlight the history and tradition of Inauguration Day.
According to the Statesman, the event was streamed through Zoom, an online meeting application, and was hosted by the Texas State Elections Task Force, led by Sherri Benn. It was co-sponsored by other organizations and university departments, including the department of history and the department of political science.
Below is a draft of the program schedule, provided to KSAT by Doggett’s office:
“While I was on the actual inaugural platform, I was advised for the first time that Texas State would not permit students to hear my remarks,” Doggett told the Statesman. “Though I have no complaints about either Dr. Benn or Dr. Trahan, whose invitations were straightforward... I am most disappointed that my speech was deemed so offensive that students at this event were not permitted to hear it.”
The video by Doggett condemned the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and was instead released on social media.
“Today, as I speak with you, I look out the window here. Beautiful white Capitol dome, our flag flying, but the crowds, the crowds are of camouflaged National Guard troops, police from the Capitol and around the region...,” Doggett said in the video. “So much damage has been done by the seditious attempt to overthrow the congressional branch of government as it attempted to provide a legitimate vote count.”
Doggett goes on to condemn both the attack itself and the ideological attack on Democracy. At the end of the video, he urges students at Texas State to engage with him with what they think of the future.
“We all have a responsibility, including Trump voters, to join together in trying to heal our country and restoring faith in one another,” Doggett said in the video. “I’m always ready to work with any person of goodwill. I welcome your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree with me today. Let’s really make America greater with mutual respect and by uniting around our love of country to meet the challenges and to seek a better future.”
After Doggett’s speech was left out of the program, he released the following statement saying that institutions of higher education should always allow the freedom of expression.
“Universities should always allow the widest possible freedom of expression. Texas State has been wrongly accused of limiting expression in the past. But today, my own speech, as the Congressmember who represents the entire San Marcos campus, was suppressed.
I had been invited recently to share remarks with students as part of the Bobcat Community Inauguration Program. I was advised of a diverse audience including those who might not share my perspective.
Accordingly, my short presentation quoted only Republicans regarding the events that led up to the Inauguration with the exception of one reference to impeachment demanding accountability regarding Trump’s gross misconduct.
As the program indicated, telling the story of this unprecedented inauguration requires telling how we got where we are today with a Capitol fortified in an extraordinary way. This morning, while I was on the actual inaugural platform, I was advised for the first time that Texas State would not permit students to hear my remarks.
Though I have no complaints about either Dr. Benn or Dr. Trahan, whose invitation was straightforward and who were not responsible for blocking my remarks, I am most disappointed that my speech was deemed so offensive that students at this event were not permitted to hear it. I attach my full speech so that you can decide for yourself.”
In response, Texas State University released this statement after the event:
“Texas State University appreciates Congressman Doggett’s willingness to provide a personal video greeting for the university’s virtual 2021 Bobcat Community Inauguration Program held Jan. 20, 2020.
The request for the Congressman’s video and the decision to not include the video in the inauguration program was made deep in the university organization without following university policy. Regrettably, it was a mistake.
Congressman Doggett has been a strong advocate of public education, higher education, and Texas State. He frequently speaks at our new student convocation, welcoming freshmen to Texas State and encouraging them to be involved in the civic process.
Most recently, Congressman Doggett was instrumental in securing federal funding critical for the Texas State University Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center, which provides research-based active shooter response training for the nation’s first responders, and a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a grant to leverage technology and innovation to combat invasive species in the nation’s waterways.”
According to Doggett’s office, the Congressman talked with Denise M. Trauth, the university’s president, who expressed her “regrets to him” and said she would have “had no objection to the speech had it been brought to her attention.”
Doggett’s office said he accepted Trauth’s apology, however, it is still unclear why the video was omitted in the university’s program.