Education /

'Deeply Traumatic': San Francisco State University President Addresses Swimmer Riley Gaines' Appearance On Campus

'I Am Proud To Say That The First Amendment Was Honored'

San Francisco State University (SFSU) president Lynn Mahoney released a statement referring to swimmer Riley Gaines’ appearance on campus last week as “deeply traumatic.”

Gaines was scheduled to speak on the rights of women in sports at SFSU at an event in conjunction with Turning Point USA (TPUSA) last Thursday.

Shortly after the swimmer began her speech, she was mobbed by transgender activists who shouted “Trans rights are human rights!” as police attempted to escort the swimmer to safety. Gaines reported she was physically assaulted during the altercation.

In a statement released through SFSU’s website, Mahoney elaborated on Thursday’s altercation in terms of its impact on LGBTQ+ students.

“The event was deeply traumatic for many in our trans and LGBTQ+ communities, and the speaker’s message outraged many members of the SF State community who value inclusion and social justice,” Mahoney wrote. “I applaud the students, staff and faculty who rallied quickly to host alternative inclusive events, protest peacefully and provide one another with support at a difficult moment.”

“I am proud to say that the First Amendment was honored. The speaker expressed her views and engaged in dialogue with those present,” she continued. “In fact, a Turning Point USA representative noted in a media interview that the discussion was ‘constructive and polite.’ Unfortunately, a disturbance after the event concluded delayed the speaker’s departure. We are reviewing the incident and, as always, will learn from the experience.”

The university president further warned students of “national media” attention critical of the university, employees and values propagated on campus.

“Please respect their right to voice that opinion, even if it differs greatly from your own as long as you do not feel personally threatened.”

Mahoney’s statement echoes a campus-wide email sent by Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management Jamillah Moore, Ed.D.

“San Francisco State finds itself again at the center of a national discussion regarding freedom of speech and expression,” wrote Moore. “Let me begin by saying clearly: the trans community is welcome and belongs at San Francisco State University. Further, our community fiercely believes in unity, connection, care and compassion, and we value different ideas, even when they are not our own.”

“SF State is regularly noted as one of the most diverse campuses in the United States—this is what makes us Gators, and this is what makes us great. Diversity promotes critical discussions, new understandings and enriches the academic experience.”

“But we may also find ourselves exposed to divergent views and even views we find personally abhorrent,” the letter continued. “These encounters have sometimes led to discord, anger, confrontation and fear. We must meet this moment and unite with a shared value of learning.”

Moore went on to add:

Thank you to our students who participated peacefully in Thursday evening’s event. It took tremendous bravery to stand in a challenging space. I am proud of the moments where we listened and asked insightful questions. I am also proud of the moments when our students demonstrated the value of free speech and the right to protest peacefully. These issues do not go away, and these values are very much at our core. This feels difficult because it is difficult. As you reflect, process, and begin to heal, please remember that there are people, resources and services available and ready to receive our Gator community, including faculty, staff members, coaches and mentors who are here to support you.

Moore detailed available campus resources including “equity and community inclusion,” “counseling and psychological services,” along with the Dean of Students Office.

“The well-being of the SF State campus community remains our priority.”

Gaines, whose account of the event called Mahoney’s comments into question, responded to the altercation last Thursday by saying “the prisoners are running the asylum.”

“I was ambushed and physically hit twice by a man,” Gaines wrote in a social media post. “This is proof that women need sex-protected spaces.”

“Still only further assures me I’m doing something right. When they want you silent, speak louder.”

Following last week’s altercation, TPUSA announced Gaines would headline their Young Women’s Leadership Summit this summer alongside other conservative personalities including YouTuber Lauren Chen and TPUSA’s Savannah Hernandez.

*For corrections please email [email protected]*