CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Following West Texas A&M University President Walter Wendler’s letter to students, faculty and staff, students gathered to protest the drag show cancelation.
Outside of the Student Union, protesters marched, cheered and held signs with messages in favor of the drag show, condemning the messages in Wendler’s letter.
President of the Hispanic Student Association, Juan Aguinaga said this has been in the works for months and doesn’t understand why the letter was sent last minute.
“It’s just concerning because the drag show was meant to be for the Trevor Project, which is an organization dealing with the prevention of suicide amongst LGBTQ teens and young adults,” said Aguinaga. “It’s just really disheartening to know the basis is in his email, against drag is a threat against womanhood, and he links it towards blackface. “So, I don’t really get the point he’s trying to make.”
Some WT students believe that Wendler made the right decision and hope students will open their minds.
“I’m a Christian myself, I live in the word, and it says that in Leviticus, that they will not enter the kingdom of heaven if they continue to their ways, and I feel bad for them,” said Zack Byrd, WT student in favor of Wendler’s decision. “Because I want them to be with me as I enter into the into heavens. They’re my brothers and sisters, and they are not doing well. They are going to die, that hurts me, because those are Jesus kids.”
One student felt that the protest and drag show could be a learning experience for students and promote diversity on campus. Something that Jasrianna Gonzalez thinks Wendler’s letter contradicts.
“WT is real big on supporting like the LGBTQ community,” said Gonzalez. “So, I feel like with President Wendler taking down the show, it kind of hurt some students and contradicts what WT is doing,” said Gonzalez. “I honestly think it can teach a lot of students a lot about people who don’t know about the different sexualities. If I was curious, or like wanted to respect someone else’s sexuality, I would ask them about it.”
For some members of the WT community, the protest was a distraction and considered embarrassing for the campus. WTAMU student Kolt Anderson doesn’t believe Wendler said anything wrong and the drag show shouldn’t happen.
“I think nothing he said, should have been taken too personally, said Anderson. “He’s just doing his job and I think they’re just making a giant scene.”
Anderson continued, “I’m just saying that’s not really professional. I don’t think a school should be allowing it. I know people like me, who think it’s stupid that they’re doing this and it’s kind of a joke to us. A lot of us just see that people are embarrassing the campus as a whole.”
Many students believe that both sides have a right to their freedom of speech, but that one was harmful and the other was not.
“I think it’s amazing that they’re out here doing this, just because I feel like it takes a lot of courage to do that, to stand up against somebody who can easily take away everything, said WT student. “I’m all for God loves all so I’m really glad that they’re doing this.”
Students said they are hoping that the protest will make Wendler equal towards everyone.
Christianity was a major focal point with both parties expressing that God loves everyone. However, some believed that because of what is said in the bible the show is morally corrupt and leads to becoming degenerates.
“I fully respect LGBTQ, I’m in the Christian community,” said Aleandro Rivera. “Of course, we want to share love, we don’t hate anybody. I think that Jesus Christ is the answer. I’m not trying to say that I’m better than anyone, or vice versa. But I think that if he were to allow this to go on mute, see our society kind of become like degenerates.”
WTAMU is a public university, and some students believe that there should be a separation of church and education, like there is for church and state.
“In the email, he links a lot of what he’s saying to the Bible,” said Aguinaga. A lot of what they’re saying is some suppressing other people’s free speech by boosting themselves. So, I think it’s all very backwards.”
Aguinaga shared that he believes the protest is introducing new concepts to college students and that he loved seeing his friends supporting the protest.
Some members of the WT community created a petition to reinstate the drag show and said with or without the support of Wendler the show is happening.
There is now a counter-petition that supports Wendler’s decision to cancel the show.