Student organization publishes in-class recording of Texas State professor

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Student organization publishes in-class recording of Texas State professor

Star file photo

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Chase Rogers and Daniel Weeks

The Texas College Republicans published a photo of a quiz and a recording of a professor on its official Twitter account, sparking debates on social media and a response from the university.

The quiz question—written and administered by English professor and former Texas House of Representatives candidate Rebecca Bell-Metereau in her Introduction to Film course—concerns Spike Lee’s film “BlacKkKlansman.”

The question: “What is true about ‘America First’ slogan in the film and present day?” A portion of the intended answer: “President Trump(’s) slogan is KKK principle.”

a screenshot of the tweet the College Republicans Tweeted

Image captured from Twitter

Texas College Republicans is the state-wide collegiate arm of The Republican Party of Texas. The tweet was subsequently retweeted by other conservative Twitter accounts, including Texas State’s College Republican chapter, TXST Students for Trump and the TXST Turning Point USA Twitter. The tweet was picked up by the TPUSA’s national Students For Trump account and garnered thousands of likes, comments and hundreds of retweets.

Texas State administration responded to the TCR post by providing context to the quiz question, stating the course the quiz was administered in “examines a variety of current films.”

TCR Twitter post states, “This is completely unacceptable behavior by a professor from @txst. From articles about how white people ‘shouldn’t exist,’ to a professor associating our president with white supremacists, this university has proven time and again to be an institution of ignorance.”

The audio recording posted by the organization is of a student asking Bell-Metereau about the juxtaposition at the end of “BlacKkKlansman,” where President Donald Trump and former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke are shown.

The student asked Bell-Metereau if Trump was referencing the August 2017 Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally. The event resulted in a white supremacist sympathizer plowing his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 12. Bell-Metereau responded, “There was never any distancing from white power,” referring to Trump and citing a cache of white nationalist literature and racist immigration stories by Stephen Miller, a senior advisor to the Trump administration.

At the end of the recording, Bell-Metereau said, “We have a problem in the White House.”

Bell-Metereau said the objective of the quiz was to have students discern what was historically accurate from the film and what the director doctored for cinematic purposes.

“The quiz was designed to have (students) look at which parts of the film were true at the time and which parts of the film Spike Lee changed or fictionalized to make the film more dramatic,” Bell-Metereau said. “The questions were about what Spike Lee was doing and what his rationale was.”

Bell-Metereau said the answer to the quiz question—which she supplied students via email—could be found in a PolitiFact article referring to the “America First” chants used by the KKK in Spike Lee’s film as an accurate historical reflection.

“This quiz is simply based on the information from PolitiFact to see if they could read an article and understand what it is saying,” Bell-Metereau said. “All I want them to do (is) be able to use fact-checking sources to determine for themselves what is true and what is not true in a film that is a biopic.”

The PolitiFact article states the slogan “America First” is one of the five principles of the KKK, citing interviews with KKK members done by Colorado Springs Sun Reporter Nancy Johnson in 1978.

“The KKK stands for five principles,” the Sun article states. “The organization supports the white race, ‘America first,’ the United States Constitution, free enterprise and Christianity.”

Bell-Metereau said she rarely shares her personal opinions and will instead provide facts to her students so they can make their own determinations.

“I generally don’t express a whole lot of opinions,” Bell-Metereau said. “It’s not that I will never criticize some actions or some situation, but it is always based on some sort of fact.”

President of College Republicans Brett Bailey said students craft posts similar to the TCR tweet to protest bias in classrooms.

“I think students want to show how classrooms are supposed to be unbiased, free-thinking learning environments,” Bailey said. “Sometimes teachers go beyond that and try to influence students a certain way, and I think that’s wrong.”

image of College of Liberal Arts tweet

Image captured from Twitter

Including the audio recording and certain photos in a social media post may violate the University Code of Conduct policy, which states in section 06.01 and 06.02, “Students are prohibited from photographing and recording during classes, and from transmitting classroom lectures, instructor materials, and discussions by students unless written permission from the class instructor…Photographs, reproductions, videos, and audio recordings may not be uploaded to publicly accessible web environments or social media, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.”

Bailey said he has not been made aware of any issues or violations in the code of conduct.

“If there are any issues, we would be more than happy to discuss,” Bailey said. “I don’t know where the photo and recording came from, but if they violated something then I’m sure they could see ramifications.”

Bell-Metereau said she hopes the student who took the picture of her quiz will come and speak with her so they can have a candid discussion about the topic.

“I want the students in my class to learn how to think and learn to think for themselves,” Bell-Metereau said. “I am definitely not trying to brainwash anybody or make them feel forced to think a certain thing.”

Image of a portion of the quiz which was posted by College Republicans

Image of quiz taken from Twitter

Audrey Garcia, journalism senior, contributed to this article.

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