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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Gov. Cox Says U Responded ‘Brilliantly’ to Pro-Palestinian Protests

Cox also discussed the U.S. Department of Education’s new rule change that expands Title IX protections to transgender students. On Tuesday, Utah joined a lawsuit opposing the DOE’s decision.
Pro-Palestine+demonstrators+assemble+tents+in+front+of+the+John+R.+Park+Building+at+the+University+of+Utah+during+the+Emergency+Rally+For+Palestine+on+Monday%2C+April+29%2C+2024.+%28Photo+by+Marco+Lozzi+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Marco Lozzi
Pro-Palestine demonstrators assemble tents in front of the John R. Park Building at the University of Utah during the Emergency Rally For Palestine on Monday, April 29, 2024. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

During his monthly press conference on Thursday, Gov. Spencer Cox commended University of Utah President Taylor Randall, campus police and the Salt Lake City Police Department for their response to pro-Palestinian protests that took place at the U. He also discussed the Department of Education’s proposal to expand Title IX protections to transgender students.

Campus Protests

I thought they handled it brilliantly,” Cox said. “If you look at what’s happened in other states across the nation, we absolutely did it the right way.”

Cox said he remained in contact with Randall throughout the night of April 29, when about 300 protesters rallied around Presidents’ Circle and formed a solidarity camp for Gaza. Later that night, police in riot gear cleared the encampment and arrested 19 people

“I’m so proud of our first responders who were on scene,” Cox said. “I wish everyone could have seen up close exactly what was happening, the taunts, the threats, the terrible things that were being shouted at them and the professional way in which they handled themselves.”

On May 2, a group of U faculty members released a letter condemning Randall’s response to the solidarity encampment. Over 100 staff members have signed the letter.

Cox emphasized his commitment to students’ rights to protests, no matter the opinions they espouse. But, the First Amendment has certain restrictions, he said.

“Camping is prohibited … you don’t have a right to camp,” Cox said. “There’s nothing in the First Amendment that says you get to pitch a tent anywhere you want whenever you want.”

More than 2,500 people have been arrested on college campuses nationwide since the pro-Palestinian protests began. 

Transgender Students

Additionally, Cox discussed the U.S. Department of Education’s new rule change that expands Title IX protections to transgender students. This change overturns changes made by the Trump administration. On Tuesday, Utah joined a lawsuit opposing the DOE’s decision.

We believe that this administration has over stepped and [this rule change] … actually undercuts the original intent of Title IX,” he said.

Title IX is a federal law that bans sex-based discrimination in schools and education programs receiving federal funding. The rule change would protect students and school employees from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“It’s very important to protect our transgender students. We want to make sure that everyone feels safe and protected,” Cox said. “But … we [also] have to protect women, and that’s what Title IX has historically been about.”

This year Utah passed a law banning transgender people from using restrooms and other private facilities that differ from their sex assigned at birth in government-owned and operated buildings. 

John Dougall, Utah state auditor in charge of enforcing the law, told the Salt Lake Tribune his office received almost 4,000 fake complaints in the first three days the law went into effect, without a single credible report in the mix.

Cox said it “remains to be seen” whether or not the law is effective, but the reporting structure has gone awry.

I think the important thing is that we’re protecting women in women’s spaces,” Cox said. “That was always the intent of the bill and it would be the intent of any, if there are changes going forward.”

 

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@GiovanniRadtke

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About the Contributors
Giovanni Radtke
Giovanni Radtke, Assistant News Editor
Giovanni Radtke is a junior at the U with an associate degree in journalism and digital media from Salt Lake Community College. He is majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Giovanni is a self-proclaimed cinephile who loves traveling and reading history books.
Marco Lozzi
Marco Lozzi, Photographer
Born in Texas and raised by Italian parents, Marco Lozzi grew up with two vastly different cultures. Now a sophomore at the U, he is majoring in communication with a journalism emphasis while also minoring in photography and Italian. He joined the Chrony to gain experience working as a photojournalist for a larger entity. When he's not taking or editing photos, he can be found hitting the slopes, napping, or making pasta.

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