Western Carolina students face death threats, faculty mockery for speaking out against 'woke' training

Western Carolina University students call out school for enforcing ‘woke’ education

Residential Assistant at WCU Katie Sanders and Campus Coordinator for TPUSA at WCU Chris Stirewalt on the mandatory gender and race trainings for students pushed by school administrators

Students who spoke out against mandatory racial and gender training at Western Carolina University were mocked online by faculty who boasted about being “proud” to be “woke” and subjected to death threats and calls to be fired.

Fox News reported last week that Resident Assistants were forced to undergo racial sensitivity training with slides warning them about “denying” the “racial experience” of another person if they say “When I look at you I don’t see color.” They were also told that referring to America as a “melting pot” can be deemed offensive and be interpreted as saying “you should assimilate to the dominant culture.”

The RAs were also introduced to a “gender unicorn” which outlined the many variations of “gender identities” and “gender expressions” that students might identify by while also being told that sex and gender have nothing to do with genitalia.

Following the report about two Resident Assistants who took issue with the presentation, members of the Western Carolina Faculty Senate took the opportunity to mock the students and use the controversy to raise money for a liberal political organization.

“Creating a fundraiser in response to the manufactured outrage and fear-mongering inherent in stories like this one that seek to make work towards diversity, equity, and inclusion scary,” Laura Wright, President of the Western Carolina Faculty Senate, posted on a fundraising website. “Thanks for some great material, though.”

Wright did not immediately respond to a request for comment for Fox News.

On the website, which referred to the Fox News report as “stupid,” users were able to purchase a shirt mocking one of the students who referred to the school as “Woke Carolina University.”

“Proud to be Woke U, home of the fighting Gender Unicorns,” the shirt’s description reads and names consistent with multiple faculty members, including Associate Professor Amy Murphy-Nugen, Associate Professor Pamela Duncan, and Assistant Professor Amy Rose, donated to the fundraiser which supports a social justice-oriented legal fund.

Western Carolina University faculty members responded to the accurate Fox story by starting a "woke" fundraiser.

Additionally, the Faculty Senate’s official Facebook page also dismissed the RA concerns as “manufactured outrage” and linked to the site that reiterated they were “proud” to be “woke.”

That post, and another similar post on Instagram, was deleted following a Monday morning appearance by Western Carolina RA Katie Sanders and Western Carolina TPUSA Campus Coordinator Chris Stirewalt on Fox & Friends First. 

Fox News reached out to Western Carolina University about the school’s position on professors publicly dismissing the concerns of the RAs and using those concerns to raise money for liberal causes while bragging about being “proud” to be “woke.”

The school did not respond to that request, nor did it respond to a request for comment last week regarding the original report. However, the school’s chancellor did send out an email to WCU alumni following the original Fox News report and assured potential donors that the “gender unicorn” training was taken “out of context.”

"Gender Unicorn" slide from mandatory Resident Assistants training at Western Carolina University. 

“The highlighted training was meant to make our RAs aware of multiple points of view; understand that our students have different backgrounds; and provide techniques to assist them with communication,” the email, obtained by Fox News from Chancellor Kelli R. Brown, stated. “Western Carolina University’s goal is to ensure that all students feel comfortable and at home in our residence halls.”

Fox News spoke to a member of the Western Carolina University Alumni Board who referred to the Faculty Senate’s actions as “egregious” especially since the professors are state employees paid for by taxpayers. 

In addition to being mocked by faculty online, the students who opposed the “woke” training were subjected to negative attacks from students online. 

Messages obtained by Fox News circulated on the social media app YikYak expressing wishes that Katie Sanders, one of the RAs who spoke up against the training, would be crucified or contract COVID. One message suggested a petition should be created to “remove” Katie “from living.” A petition was created calling for Sanders to lose her job as RA and the financial benefits that come along with it simply for speaking out against the training. 

“I am using my right of free speech to voice the opinion that is not being heard,” Sanders tells Fox News. “I expected that a petition or something of the sort would go around. I am not upset that it is happening because they have that right, but I would be upset if I were to lose my job because I love it and have not had any problems with any residents before this. The death threats I have been receiving are not okay and that should be universally accepted. As for the WCU Faculty Senate, the point is being proven about opposing views because they are saying our opinion is nonsense and proceeded to create t-shirts for sale. After being called out for their post, they immediately deleted it.”

Balsam Residence Hall at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.

Sanders says that the school has assured her they don’t tolerate death threats of any kind and will investigate the matter.

“The faculty senate openly mocking our concerns highlights the divide that exists between us conservative students and the administration at our school,” Stirewalt, who has received at least one threat of physical violence against him online over the controversy, told Fox News in a statement. “Not only does this show that our professors don’t take our concerns seriously, they think it’s a joke and an excuse to raise money. The fact that they deleted the posts after being called out shows that they don’t believe what they post, they just use events like this as an excuse to push an agenda.”

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