Tennessee Tech Professors Defend Their Flyers Threatening Turning Point USA Advisor, Students as Free Speech in Exclusive Radio Interview

Rude Pundit


The two Tennessee Tech (TTU) professors who posted flyers threatening a Turning Point USA (TPUSA) advisor and students defended their actions in a radio interview on Monday. They claimed it constituted free speech.

The professors in question were TTU Department of Foreign Languages Associate Professor Dr. Julia Gruber and English instructor in English and religious studies Andrew Smith. The Rude Pundit host Lee Papa conducted an hour-long interview with Smith and Gruber. Papa facilitated discussion over the possibility that Tennessee Tech would punish the professors for posting the flyers.

Papa identified Gruber and Smith as grassroots Cookeville activists involved in a litany of left-leaning organizations, such as Black Lives Matter, the Tennessee Indigenous Coalition, the NAACP, and the Cookeville Mutual Aid Society. Collectively, the pair also advise or co-advise chapters of the LAMBDA Gay-Straight Alliance, NAACP, College Democrats, Presbyterian Student Association, and the Student Environmental Activist Coalition.

“They always put their students first, but they find their social justice work integral to the mission of their work and the mission of any university,” explained Papa.

As The Tennessee Star reported on Tuesday, the TTU Human Resources’ investigator concluded that the flyers were intended to harass, threaten, and intimidate anyone involved in the TTU Turning Point USA chapter. The investigator recommended that the two professors be found in violation of TTU’s Code of Conduct.

Gruber categorized her behavior as an “act of activism.” She said that she’s been investigated before, but didn’t disclose what for.

Smith explained that he made the flyer because one of his targets, TTU TPUSA campus advisor A.J. Donadio, was a racist and that TPUSA is a racist organization.

He explained further that he’d shown Gruber and other professors the flyer, and that Gruber was the first to post one copy of the flyer. Smith said that he decided to post one flyer himself after that. He also claimed that no students saw the flyer.

Yet, several students reported seeing the flyer.

Papa disagreed that the flyer was out of line. He equated it to TPUSA’s Professor Watchlist.

However, flyer stated that Donadio and TPUSA weren’t welcome on TTU’s campus, that there couldn’t be unity with racists, and that Donadio’s and TPUSA’s speech isn’t protected free speech. These were aspects that the investigator determined carried the intent of harassment, intimidation, and issuing threats.

In contrast, TPUSA’s list doesn’t call for any removal of the professors. Their “About Us” page explains the list’s purpose at length:

The mission of Professor Watchlist is to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom. The project is comprised of published news stories detailing instances of bias, propaganda, or speech infringement on college campuses. […] TPUSA will continue to fight for free speech and the right of professors to say whatever they believe, however students, parents, and alumni deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in our lecture halls.

Gruber went on to say that Donadio’s cheering during a local school board meeting over their refusal to remove a “racist” mascot – the Algood Middle School Redskins mascot – instigated the flyer’s creation. Gruber created a GoFundMe last week to reverse the school board’s decision.

Both Gruber and Smith were adamant that the flyer constituted an exercise of free speech. They said they were open to debating TPUSA members and advisors over their beliefs, despite the flyer’s assertion that those involved in TPUSA expressed speech that wasn’t protected or tolerable.

Smith insinuated that Donadio’s decision to go to the police “over a piece of paper” was an overreaction.

Papa asserted that this investigation against the flyer was just a means of silencing professors who think differently. Smith and Gruber agreed.

Gruber and Smith have hired legal counsel to fight TTU’s investigation and any potential sanctions.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Interview” by The Rude Pundit. 






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14 Thoughts to “Tennessee Tech Professors Defend Their Flyers Threatening Turning Point USA Advisor, Students as Free Speech in Exclusive Radio Interview”

  1. AP

    CONSEQUENCES! These 2 individuals, I don’t care if they are Liberals/Democrats/Republicans/Santa Claus, they need to be punished. People need to have consequences for their actions! This is why the country is in the shape that it’s in today! No one is accountable for their actions and everybody gets a participation award! It’s absolutely disturbing what these 2 professors did. They did not do anything that should count as “Free Speech”. What they did was Harassment! These 2 people should “Lead by example”, they are “teachers” for goodness sakes! If I was a betting person, I guarantee this was on their agenda from the get go…
    TN Tech – you all would be better off to get rid of these 2 as soon as possible even if you have to pay them to go! They will be nothing but trouble for your establishment, the students/faculty, and this community if you don’t!
    Fair warning!

  2. Clay

    Have any of you ever noticed how most of these wacko liberals all look the same?

  3. lb

    Yes please do an “Investigation”. Make them spend lots of their $$ fighting it and then FIRE THEM. Make an example of these people who are of the opinion that it is “Free Speech for Me but NOT for Thee”

  4. Dr Ken

    In the spirit of transparency, in the spirit of freedom of speech, these two state employees (I will not honor them with the title of professors) ought to welcome an investigation. instead, they “lawyer up” knowing full well they were wrong. In addition, school administration in these times of tight budgets, needs to reassess what courses the state taxpayer fund. Pan African studies? Really? What a waste of general funds.

    1. 83ragtop50

      Dr Ken. If the administration at this and most other universities actually made an objective assessment of the classes offered and actually decided to eliminate the fluff and propaganda they would probably fire half of the teachers. Universities have evolved into little more than daycare facilities for 24 year-olds who refuse to work for a living. I am aware through personal experience that a fair number of youth go there for a real education but they get swamped by the riffraff in the teaching and administrative ranks. The only probable way to reign this in is for the government to stop providing these places with boatloads of money. Sure not going to happen in Tennessee with Mr. Lee in charge.

  5. Beatrice Shaw

    Good people. Seems they are being discriminated against by the University. They should be able to say whatever they please when attacking a racist organization like Turning point (or whatever). These racist supremacists change club names more often than blacks are murdered by cops.

    1. Lobo

      Firstly, TP USA is not a “racist” organization.. If you were familiar with their work, you would be aware of the fact that they actually expose “racists”, Anti-American actions, and fraud.. I would suggest that you actually look at all of the fraud they have exposed.. These so-called educators can’t stand up to the light that actually exposes their agendas.

    2. C.R. Varner

      Turning Point is not a racist organization…..it is a conservative organization that works to prevent discrimination against conservative students. Get your facts straight. Free speech applies to all in this country – and lies and harassment such as what these two TTU employees have done should be dealt with.

  6. mikey whipwreck

    these professors support free speech as long as it is the approved free speech they endorse.

  7. Kevin

    This is classic! Smith and Gruber would fit right in to 1930’s Weimar Germany. They “fight” for all of the “oppressed” individuals, causes and groups, until they gain control, and then the real oppression starts!

    If it weren’t for double standards the left would have no standards at all!

  8. Gordon Shumway


    well that just says it all eh

    1. Mikey Whipwreck

      If sie is what counts as an advisor for the PSA I hope most of the students become Baptist before sie tries to convert them to her brand of Marxism

    2. Alexander Winchester

      Sie is a German pronoun, and Gruber is German.

  9. JB Taylor

    The liberals need to be fired immediately.