Update: This headline has been updated to "UF students invite conservative who tweeted about Parkland survivors being actors."
Despite controversial tweets made by Dinesh D’Souza following the Parkland school shooting last week, student group Young Americans for Freedom still plan to invite him to speak on campus this April.
D’Souza, a conservative author and speaker, came under fire Tuesday after mocking survivors of the shooting in a series of tweets regarding the Florida legislature’s decision to vote down a bill that would ban assault weapons. The UF chapter of the organization still plans to invite D’Souza to speak on campus on April 12, according to its website. The event will cost $15,000, the organization wrote in a Facebook message.
“University of Florida Young Americans for Freedom is proud to host conservative author, filmmaker, and speaker Dinesh D’Souza,” the organization wrote in a statement.
UF spokesperson Margot Winick said UF doesn’t have a contract with the speaker at this time, so the event is not confirmed. The Student Senate passed a resolution Jan. 23 that gave $5,100 to the organization for the D’Souza speaking event, according to Alligator archives. The Alligator could not confirm where the rest of the money is coming from.
On Tuesday, D’Souza called a Stoneman Douglas student who talked to media “coached and also a bit deranged.” He tweeted President Donald Trump should ignore “media-manufactured theatrics.”
About two hours later, he shared an article about Florida lawmakers who rejected a bill to ban assault rifles. “Adults 1, kids 0,” he wrote. He followed up with another tweet with a picture of the students hearing the decision from lawmakers and wrote, “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.”
This woman seems coached and also a bit deranged. Trump’s should ignore these media-manufactured theatrics https://t.co/ewRNRqnlEi— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 20, 2018
Adults 1, kids 0 https://t.co/24iqKtnTxy— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 20, 2018
Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs https://t.co/Vg3mXYvb4c— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 20, 2018
The next day, D’Souza apologized for his remarks.
While it aimed at media manipulation, my tweet was insensitive to students who lost friends in a terrible tragedy. I’m truly sorry— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 21, 2018
“While it aimed at media manipulation, my tweet was insensitive to students who lost friends in a terrible tragedy. I’m truly sorry,” he tweeted.
The organization refused to comment on the tweets specifically but said its members were praying for the victims and families of the shooting.
“We are dedicated to educating students on the importance of our constitutional freedoms including the second amendment,” the statement reads.
Ian Kampert, a UF english junior, believes that YAF should rescind D’Souza’s invitation.
“Everything that can be done to stop him from speaking here should be done,” the 20-year-old said. “If that includes the Young Americans for Freedom canceling the invitation, then I’m all for it.”
Kampert wasn’t surprised to hear about D’Souza’s controversial tweets because he’s found some of his past work to be inflammatory. Although he would like UF to step in and prevent D’Souza from speaking, he’s not sure they have the power.
“If they were unable to stop Richard Spencer from speaking, then Dinesh D’Souza is small potatoes compared to Richard Spencer,” he said.