Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Matt Walsh visit to UW campus elicits protest, contention

‘You spineless, gutless clowns owe me an apology,’ Walsh says of UW
Audrey Thibert

Right-wing political commentator Matt Walsh hosted an event at Memorial Union Monday night, sparking demonstrations and generating high turnout.

Walsh’s event included a screening of his film “What is a Woman?” followed by a speech and Q&A session.

“What is a Woman?” questions the movement to redefine gender roles by asking people including doctors, politicians, professors, parents and psychologists the question “what is a woman?” Walsh’s film purports that transgender people pose a threat to children, society and femininity, and critics call the film transphobic and homophobic.


Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth activism organization, invited Walsh to campus. Currently led by former Gov. Scott Walker, YAF was founded in 1960 and advocates for “free market principles, constitutional rights, a strong national defense, and individual liberty and responsibility.” Past YAF events on campus have included talks by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Walsh at UW sparks protest

Some students at the University of Wisconsin responded to Walsh’s presence in protest Monday, in the form of both vandalism and organized protest.

Madison Abortion & Reproductive Rights Coalition for Healthcare organized a protest outside of Memorial Union at 4 p.m., which garnered a large turnout from students and community members.

Graduate student studying anthropology at UW, Juniper Lewis, participated in the protest and said they think it is important for people to come together in protest, even if they aren’t part of the trans community.

“In the end, Matt Walsh being here won’t hurt me personally as a white trans man, but it is going to especially harm trans women of color who are already extremely vulnerable to this sort of hate speech and violence he has promoted,” Lewis said.

Protesters flew the blue, pink and white transgender pride flag, chalked phrases like “Trans rights are human rights” onto the sidewalk and chanted in favor of trans rights.

Soon, a group of religious counter-protesters positioned themselves across the street from Memorial Union with a microphone and anti-abortion signs and began reading from the Bible into the microphone.

Around 4:35 p.m., protesters moved across the street to face the counter-protesters, ripping up their Bible and shouting at the group. Eventually, police escorted the counter-protesters away from Memorial Union.

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The protest resumed in front of Memorial Union, with speakers from the Socialist Alternative and more chants.

Walsh’s previous visits to college campuses like the University of Houston and the University of Central Florida also sparked student protests.

Earlier Monday morning, graffiti was found in front of Memorial Union, Alumni Park and Bucky Badger statues. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the University of Wisconsin Police Department is investigating the graffiti and the university will take action to hold responsible individuals accountable.

Walsh speaks at Memorial Union

The overflow line for Walsh’s talk Monday stretched down three flights of stairs and through hallways while over 300 people gathered inside Memorial Union’s Great Hall to see Walsh speak at 6:30 p.m.

At the event, Chairman of YAF Harrison Wells introduced Walsh. In his introduction, Wells confirmed YAF put up tens of posters in the Gender & Women’s Studies hallway last week and called a bias report filed after the incident a “false report.”

Walsh also spoke of the incident, quoting from a Badger Herald article and calling out by name the teaching assistant who filed the bias incident report.

“Students in that department need to see my film more than anyone else needs to see it,” Walsh said. “In fact, nobody understands the gender issue less than Gender and Women’s Studies students and professors.”

Following this, Walsh denounced UW’s response to hurt and discontent from the student community, citing a message to the UW community from Dean of Students Christina Olstad and Associate Vice Chancellor Gabe Javier that called Walsh’s viewpoints “harmful toward our trans community.”

Walsh called this “abject cowardice” in a Tweet and addressed UW directly in his talk Monday, saying the university was inciting violence against him.

“I would like to just say to the UW administration — you should be ashamed of yourselves, you disgraceful self-debasing cowards,” Walsh said. “And you spineless, gutless clowns owe me an apology.”

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During the rest of his talk, Walsh spoke in depth about his beliefs — namely his strong opinion that gender is binary and that doctors should not perform gender affirming surgeries on transgender people. He has called the procedures “castrating kids” and “child mutilation.”

At the end of his speech, event attendees — some in support of his views and some against — asked Walsh questions. Questions ranged in topic, from the existence of gay marriage to how to be a conservative student at UW. One student who had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria asked Walsh why he understands gender affirming care to be “so immoral that we should ignore the potential benefits” and why they should listen to Walsh, who is not a medical professional.

YAF paid for $8,000 of the $10,000 event, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The other $2,000 came from the Associated Students of Madison, according to Grant Allocation Committee Chair Gracie Nelson.

LGBTQ+, GNC community sees bias incident ahead of conservative talk

In a statement to The Badger Herald, ASM Diverse Engagement Coordinator Emmett Lockwood said the choice to fund Matt Walsh’s presence on campus has been hard to stomach and he apologized to his transgender siblings on campus.

“I apologize for being complacent with a decision that squarely stands against ASM’s values of promoting inclusion and belonging for all students on this campus,” Lockwood said. “While ideological diversity is something I value at this university, ideological diversity should not be valued above the safety and security of our students, especially our marginalized students.”

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