An assistant professor of history at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas has apologized for blaming President Trump for the recent shooting massacre in the city after a student secretly recorded her comments and shared them with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In the video, Tessa Winkelmann tells an upper-level class that when Trump was elected, she told students “that some of us won’t be affected by this presidency, but others are going to die.” Winkelmann says that Trump has “threatened to declare violence against North Korea and other places” and that “words, especially if they’re coming from someone who is the president, have consequences.” She adds, “I don’t know that these events would have inevitably happened whether or not he got elected, but he has rhetorical powers; every president has to encourage or to discourage [violence]. So far all he’s done is to encourage violence.”
The anonymous student who shared with video with the newspaper reportedly said classmates began arguing the point with one another. The Review-Journal quotes Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, as saying that Winkelmann “should be ashamed of herself, and the university should look into it. What a terrible example to set for students.”
Winkelmann told the newspaper that last week was “very difficult for members of our community, and we have allowed students space in our classes to discuss how they have been affected and to openly convey their feelings.” She added via email, “I regret that my comments caused more pain during this difficult time. Emotions were running high and I wish I would have been more thoughtful in how I directed the conversation.”
Tony Allen, university spokesperson, in a statement called Winkelmann’s comments insensitive but did not address the possibility of disciplinary action against her.
“While we respect academic freedom in the classroom and the right to free speech, we believe the comments were insensitive, especially given the series of events this week and the healing process that has begun in the community.”