Campus Free Speech

What Did U-M Coach Jim Harbaugh Say to Offended Students? I Was Kicked Out of the Meeting.

Discussion between Harbaugh and students conducted behind locked doors.

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Harbaugh
Eric Upchurch

University of Michigan Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh met with about two dozen Muslim and Arab students today—supposedly to make amends for speaking out in favor of showing American Sniper on campus a few weeks ago. I attended the meeting, but was forced to leave when Harbaugh arrived. Insisting the meeting was "private," administrators then barred entry to the press and anyone else not on a preapproved list.

Did Harbaugh apologize to the students? I don't know. After 1 hour and 30 minutes, the room opened and everyone left. I asked nearly every person to comment, but all of them—including Harbaugh himself—refused.

The event was initially advertised as one in which Harbaugh would "be issuing a private apology to Middle Eastern, North African, Muslim, and South Asian students," according to an email sent by student activist Lamees Mekkaoui, who spearheaded efforts to get the American Sniper screening cancelled last month. Harbaugh had tweeted in support of screening the movie:

"Michigan Football will watch "American Sniper"! Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!

Administrators eventually decided to screen American Sniper, but also showed the comparatively tame Paddington as an alternative for offended students.

After informing her fellow activists that Harbaugh would be apologizing, Mekkaoui sent a follow-up email clarifying that she had been mistaken:

I would like to make a correction in my email. I made the mistake of assuming that an apology would be issued. However, Coach Jim Harbaugh was simply invited to a private meeting with us in order to talk about the screening of American Sniper and get a dialogue going about how a university leader's social media can impact campus climate.

The meeting was held in a classroom-sized room in the student union. I arrived early, but waited outside the door until Harbaugh appeared with a university photographer and another administrator. I then followed them inside and took a seat. A student organizer asked me to identify myself, and instructed me to leave after I revealed that I was a journalist. I asked to be allowed to just listen-in on the conversation, but Harbaugh's people insisted that the event was private and closed to the press. I appealed to Harbaugh himself, but he wouldn't meet my gaze. Once it was clear there was nothing I could do to remain in the room, I left.

After that, the entrance was barred to anyone not a preapproved list—including student reporters with The Michigan Daily, who turned up a bit later.

I was then approached by a middle-aged-woman who had access to the meeting. She asked me if I needed her help, so I repeated my request to sit in. She explained that that was never going to happen and asked me whether I had taken any pictures. Indeed, I had—though only of Harbaugh, before he entered the room. The woman asked me not to take any more pictures and asserted that I was making the students "unsafe."

After it was over, I followed Harbaugh down the hallway: He repeated several times that the meeting "went great," but wouldn't say anything else. Event organizers also declined comment. University Public Relations Director Rick Fitzgerald told me that the meeting was always intended to be private. A Michigan Daily reporter asked him whether there were any ulterior reasons for the incredible secrecy; Fitzgerald reiterated his stance.

The students were clearly coached not to speak to the press; none would answer any questions about what had transpired. The Michigan Daily reporters appeared to have no more luck than I.

I don't dispute that the students have every right to conduct a private meeting, though I can't help but wonder what purpose such militant secrecy serves. Did the perpetually offended campus left just deal Harbaugh his first defeat as Wolverines head coach—months before the season even begun? Or did he defend himself? We may never know.

For more on the American Sniper controversy at UM, read my exclusive report on an act of vandalism perpetrated by a liberal Muslim student leader.

NEXT: The constitutional case for interposition and nullification

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  1. Who gives a fuck. He’s gonna be out of a job after Ohio State beats his ass three years in a row anyhow.

    O-H…

    1. Sloopy, you may want to sit down for this. Urban Meyer has a really short shelf life, and your coming up on his expiration date pretty soon. Ask a Florida fan.

      1. I think, instead of overtime, in college the coaching staff need to enter into a no holds barred brawl to determine the winner of all games tied at the end of regulation.

        1. Why not duels at 10 paces?

          1. because football is for men- not men with weapons.

            1. Duels end in death, no hold barred brawls end in pussified tap outs.

        2. Why, so Harbaugh could fracture his hand hitting a guy in the face again?

        3. Oil wrestling amongst the cheerleaders.

        4. No, that’d be too violent. Just make them answer questions at a press conference. First one who says something politically incorrect loses.

      2. Florida was a stepping stone to his dream job. I know that’s probably hard to fathom as a Florida fan since yours is one of the top 10 or so programs in the country, but it’s also the truth.

        That and he looks to have his workload in better perspective now.

        Lastly, Tressel also owned Michigan.

        1. I don’t care that he left. It’s the whole “I’m dying.” “I’m quitting for my health.” Bullshit. Be a man. Say “I want to coach the Buckeyes”

          1. Whatever, by all indications he was set to take over for Paterno before shit hit the fan. Ohio got him by default.

            1. He never coached the Bobcats, did he?

              1. Paterno was making preparations to retire at the end of what ended up being his last season anyway. Meyer was his preferred successor and he made that known. Apparently there was mutual interest. That’s a long way from signing a contract, obviously, but Penn State wanted him and I think there is a good chance they would have landed him had Sandusky not happened.

            2. My memory of events was he quit because he couldn’t handle the stress. I guess coaching in Ohio is somehow less stressful than coaching at UF.

              1. He took a year off.

                And perhaps it is less stressful personally. After all, recruiting for the Buckeyes is probably easier than recruiting for the Gators.

                1. It probably is less stressful. Football fans in Florida (and not just Gator fans) are a special strain of rabid, and do not let up for a moment. Ever.

                  1. This is … Well true.

          2. Be did quit for a year though. And he almost left the year before that…way before Tressel got caught doing…well, defending his players right to barter personal property.

            He wouldn’t be coaching anywhere if the Buckeyes job hadn’t fallen into his lap. It was just a perfect storm of coincidences that brought to job to his doorstep the same time his daughter was going into school and his wife made him get his shit together health-wise. And yes, he wanted that job more than anything in the world. Sorry, facts is facts. And he’ll probably last a decade, which is asking a lot.

          3. He did quit for health reasons. His doctors all thought he had bad, stress-related heart problems and advised him to quit. It turned out that he just had esophageal spasms.

            I’m biased, but I can’t fault the guy for a misdiagnosis.

            http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/st…..amily-life

          4. I’m with you brother. I’m a Florida fan. Urban Meyer said he couldn’t handle the pressure at Florida. I guess Ohio state isn’t a nationally prominent program.

        2. Did you just call me a Florida fan?

          *urge to kill rising*

          1. Shit, sorry. I read that “as a gators fan”. My bad.

              1. I have nothing against Gators fans personally. I didn’t want him feeling microaggressed against.

                For all I know he’s a Hurricanes fan. And we all know how fragile those fuckers are…still whining like little bitches about the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

                1. Hmmm.. yes, quite.. Carry on.

                2. Canes only have fans when they go 10-2 or better.

                  I was at a local minor league baseball game a few weeks ago and Schnellenberger was there to throw out the first pitch. I started to say something but decided not to.

                  1. “Keep on rockin that awesome ‘stache!”

      3. Si, it’s true.
        Go Gators!
        *cries into plush gator toy*

        1. “Go to Hell Gay-tors!
          Go to Hell…
          EAT SHIT!”

          1. That reminds me, my son is almost old enough to learn that chant.

            1. Don’t forget to teach him “Noooooo means noooooo…”

              1. Please. Her attorney probably showed him playing UF to charge him as a serial rapist.

      4. Dark Lord – the Jim Harbaugh has a shorter self-life. Pretty much the whole West Coast hates him so now he’s starting in on the Midwest.

    2. I -O

    3. -I-O

      Hang on Sloopy, who cares what happens at the “cesspool of the world”?

      Meyer is a good football coach, but I am not sure he ‘gets’ OSU.

      It’s too bad about Tressel, I think he understood OSU better than any coach since Woody.

  2. I hope, so much- so deep in my bones, that he didn’t. I hope he explained to them how they were whiny little shitbirds.

    Then I hope they manned (or womanned) up and left understanding the importance of hearing (or letting others hear) opposing viewpoints.

    1. Of course he didn’t. Harbaugh himself took the chickenshit “no comment” way out.

      1. Yep. My opinion of hi dropped a few notches with this story.

        He wussed out.

    2. Then I hope they manned (or womanned) up and left understanding the importance of hearing (or letting others hear) opposing viewpoints.

      You’re more likely to get a hand job from Terry Schiavo than to get college students in America to “man up” today.

      1. I don’t know man, that’s a LOT of digging…

      2. You’re more likely to get a hand job from Terry Schiavo

        Go on…

    3. The students would not have left the room refusing to speak to anyone from the media had they been told anything other than what they wanted to hear. They where told what they wanted to hear. You can be certain of that.

  3. “If any of you little shits talk, I’m going to send the team date rapist to your rooms.”

    1. “If any of you little shits talk, I’m going to send the team date rapist to your rooms. I know where you live, and have seen where you sleep! And I swear by all that’s holy, your mothers will cry when they see what I’ve done to you!”

      /ftfy

    2. “If any of you little shits talk, I’m going to send the team date rapist to your rooms.”

      …and Warty’s a Buckeye.

  4. Administrators eventually decided to screen American Sniper, but also showed the comparatively tame Paddington as an alternative for offended students.

    Paddington is certainly more in keeping with our nation’s youngsters twee sensibilities.

    1. Any *actual* adult would be offended by being offered a movie teddy bear to soothe their upset.

  5. Seems like liberty lost again.

    It’s the only thing freedom has in common with Michigan football.

  6. Its a shame Harbaugh didn’t tell administration to fuck off when they told him to apologize.

    What would they do about it, anyway?

    1. Buy his contract out.

      1. “Dammit, you refuse to apologize, do you? Well, your punishment is this check for several million dollars! Hah! That’ll show you, won’t it?”

    2. Fire him and not pay him due to the breach of his “morals clause”?

      1. nah. they wouldn’t dare. they would pay him out.

      2. “Fire him and not pay him due to the breach of his “morals clause”?”

        That ain’t gonna happen. That would assure them of having a very hard time hiring a top level replacement. Top level college coach’s contracts are golden these days. Even if you just up and quit, even if you have a motorcycle wreck with a sophmore co-ed drunk and panty less on the back you get all you signed up for.

        It’s a tight knit community and the best way to ensure you can’t get a top notch coach is to fuck around with his predecessors money.

    3. An apology would be really absurd. He didn’t say anything he should be sorry about.

  7. “be issuing a private apology to Middle Eastern, North African, Muslim, and South Asian students,”

    Just the students in the room? And how did this odd hodge-podge of nationalities get selected?

    1. Dear goat-fuckers, towel-heads, and gooks. I am very sorry…

      1. I am comforted by the fact that every time a prominent person apologizes like this, the story posted at Reason has the most insulting comments directed at the assholes that demanded the apology…

  8. I don’t dispute that the students have every right to conduct a private meeting, though I can’t help but wonder what purpose such militant secrecy serves.

    Maybe he’s iritated by the implication he has to justify his decisions to Robby Soave and did it just to piss you off.

    1. and did it just to piss you off.

      Robby is related to Pete Carroll?

    2. No kidding. What the hell is this story? Since when does Reason start tut-tutting people for insufficient apologies for expressing unpopular opinions

      Combine this with Robby’s whole “the complete absence of evidence doesn’t conclusively point to the innocence of the accused” thing with college rape stories and I’ve now got a least-favorite writer on Reason. Is he their token progressive? If so, I’m fine with this being more of a libertarian echo chamber, thanks.

      Actually, the fact that Harbaugh kicked him out of the meeting now makes me like Michigan football and Harbaugh that much more…even though he used to be coach of the hated Niners.

  9. The woman asked me not to take any more pictures and asserted that I was making the students “unsafe.”

    AHAHAHAHAHA…get ready for this shit to be used more and more for any possible thing that people just want to shut you down over. Because that’s what all this shit is about anyway.

    Did the perpetually offended campus left just deal Harbaugh his first defeat as Wolverines head coach?months before the season even begun? Or did he defend himself? We may never know.

    I’d bet pretty heavily that if the the offended brigade didn’t get him publicly apologizing, they didn’t get shit. Because it’s useless to them without the public apology. They need people to see that they got him to knuckle under. If they don’t have that to show people, they didn’t get it.

    1. I’d bet pretty heavily that if the the offended brigade didn’t get him publicly apologizing, they didn’t get shit. Because it’s useless to them without the public apology. They need people to see that they got him to knuckle under. If they don’t have that to show people, they didn’t get it.

      This is a good point.

      So one wonders what he did. Coach-splain his reasoning to them?

      1. Coach-speak lesson for the day: “No comment”= Answering this question will not help me win any games, and will probably lead to more questions that waste time when I could be watching film/recruiting. So piss off.

    2. Just showing up to the meeting was knuckling under he should have publicly stated, reiterated, that his 1st amendment right to say or view anything shall not be abridge by those who do not understand that the 1st amendment is not there to protect people from different views but to protect all views offensive or otherwise.

      1. I don’t know. He got them to send out a email to all their buddies saying he wasn’t going to be apologizing, and they still showed up. I’d call it a win for him.

      2. Why even bring up the 1st amendment (unless they are trying to fire him)?

        Assuming that the one tweet published here is the supposedly offensive thing he said, he should have simply said that there is nothing there he should apologize for. No one should feel any obligation to make sure no one is offended by anything ever. His saying that if they are offended, so be it, seems like a simple statement of the fact that if people are going to be offended by a mainstream movie, then they are going to be offended no matter what and it doesn’t matter when and where it is shown.

    3. Robby should have just responded that she was making him feel unsafe.

      All of this “safe” and “trigger” shit is sort of an interesting phnomenon, in a stupid and annoying way. What seems to have happened is that these people have adopted terms that are properly applied to people with severe psychological traumas and decided that they should be used whenever their feelings are hurt.
      If you are really triggered or made to feel unsafe so readily, you really should seek some professional help and you probably should take some time off from school until you can get your shit together. How did being fucked in the head become a badge of honor?

      1. Because a victim mentality actually gives you control over everyone else.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oht9AEq1798

  10. The woman asked me not to take any more pictures and asserted that I was making the students “unsafe.”

    Well, there goes another word into “no longer has any meaning” bin.

    1. Camera = microaggression

    2. Well, he was stealing their souls.

  11. Your hair makes me feel unsafe, Robby.

    1. You too?!? It’s like some kind of evil helmet…

      1. I bet he gives great helmet…

  12. Keeping back and quietly watching sounds an awful lot like what snipers do. I don’t blame them for feeling unsafe.

  13. Harbaugh is taking the Hilary Clinton strategy. Say nothing – and the blithering idiots will still support you.

    1. From my perspective, Harbaugh has felt far more repercussions from a tweet suggesting this week’s movie pick than Hillary has for committing multiple daylight felonies.

      1. Yeah, Paul, that’s because Harbaugh created KULTUR WAR controversy, which is what people care about. Hillary only potentially broke laws and accepted potentially illegal donations and…you know, unimportant stuff. Not important stuff like whether a movie is…what the fuck is the deal with this movie?

        1. Suggesting someone see a controversial movie is far worse than putting our foreign policy up for sale to the highest bidder.

          1. We had way tooo much uranium, Drake. Putin had none. Does that sound like fair and equal distribution to you? Check your privilege cis-fascist scum!

        2. what the fuck is the deal with this movie?

          It’s a movie about how Dick Cheney turned Adam Lanza into a killing machine.

      2. That is how he learned to stop tweeting and love the Hilary strategy.

      3. Sadly, a lot of people need to learn a lesson popularized by the monstrous Eleanor Roosevelt, “no one can oppress you without your consent”.

        In many ways, the power the nuts have is the power we grant them… schools could have turned down the DOE money en masse; Joss Whedon could have ignored the nasty shit people were saying on twitter; etc.

        The power these people have comes from people not realizing how pathetic they actually are.

        Consider Michael Bay. He makes really, really shitty movies and people give him shit about it. Does he let that stop him? Absolutely not! He knows that the guys at firms like Sony Pictures are the only people he need to worry about. He ignores the criticism and keeps on making shitty movies.

        1. Whedon said the only reason he quit Twitter was because it was distracting him from writing, not because he was angry about critics. He’s been a public figure for a long time, with a history of being honest about what he thinks, so I tend to believe his explanation.

    2. Meh. I also have a “never talk to reporters” rule myself (admittedly, it’s rarely comes up). They’re not interested in the truth, they’re just fishing for quotes they can take out of context to support their pre-chosen spin. So talking to a reporter can’t possibly help you and can do a lot of damage.

      1. It’s an excellent rule. “No comment” is one of the greatest phrases in the English language.

        1. Worst chat room ever!

      2. A buddy of mine was at a playground with his toddler and got randomly “man on the street” interviewed about whether he thought vaccines caused autism. He gave a thorough and knowledgeable and impassioned and maybe slightly vitriolic defense of childhood vaccinations, and mentioned at the end that he should know, because he is a doctor. Guess which part they edited out.

      3. I also have a “never talk to reporters” rule myself

        Oh, I’ll talk to them. I just won’t say anything, other than to point out the numerous errors in their last article.

        1. I subscribe to the Nick Naylor school of dealing with journalists. Fuck the ones that look like Maggie Gyllenhall

          1. Wasn’t it Katie Holmes? Or is this a Batman joke of some kind?

            1. You are right. For some reason I always get those two confused.

              1. Does it really matter?

      4. Cops and reporters. Neither of them ever makes your life better unless you’re siccing them on someone else.

  14. why would the little shits be offended by American Sniper? they need to show their work.

    1. Because they’re pussies?

    2. The same reason Germans were offended by Saving Private Ryan.

      1. Because there was no shei?e in it?

        1. Because they weren’t portrayed as altruists, that always stuck in their collective craw…

  15. If he didn’t apologize and said anything to piss them off more, I guarantee we’ll hear allllllll about it.

    1. They were? When I was in the National Guard we had some visiting German Tanker NCOs. Drank beer and watched Band of Brothers one night. They loved it – apparently they don’t get many good war movies.

      1. ” they don’t get many good war movies.”

        They had Das Boot…. but christ, that was the 1980s

        1. As I recall “Das Boot” got the same sort of criticisms “American Sniper” does, that it glorified U-Boat crew and combat despite trying to give realistic portrayal of what a miserable duty it was.

          1. So, no play at UM?

            1. Is anyone at UM triggered by depictions of killing Brits and Americans?

          2. Didn’t know that. I’d heard that it was “controversial” in Germany for being a realistic depiction of WWII UBoat warfare…. but it really hardly even touches on anything very-‘nazi’ at all. I suppose from the POV of the lefty germans, they’d dislike it for that very reason = it doesn’t demonize the sailors *enough*, and doesn’t condemn them as monsters

            its probably one of the best war movies ever made IMO.

            A guy at the local video store (back when such things existed) had a stash with 3 different versions of the film = the original 2.5 hour theatrical release, the 3.5 hour “directors cut”, and then the 6-episode/5-hour version of the film that was released as a “mini-series” in the UK/Germany. I watched them all at different points, and was impressed how they managed to change the pacing of the film to make it work in each version.

  16. What was the problem with Soave, again?

    1. His mane, and its imposing luxuriant fullness…

      1. Well, his father is the Nature Boy Ric Flair.

        1. A direct descendent of Sampson himself..

  17. “militant secrecy”

    Well jeez i don’t know why people might want to avoid speaking candidly in front of journalists these days…. its not like anyone just puts sensational, damning accusations in headlines, leaving the more-subtle analysis for the body of the story

  18. Nothing happened. They all got their pastel colored fold-out mats and had naptime.

  19. I guess Robby won’t be sneaking into Mecca and Medina anytime soon.

  20. Robby Soave ?@robbysoave

    Harbaugh is still talking to the aggrieved students. I’m waiting outside with student reporters.

    Making the coed student reporters feel unsafe in their self-control.

    1. He should wear a burka..

    2. They feel unsafe around Robster because they can spot a creeper. Keep up the good work Rob.

  21. In so far as it looks like the coach isn’t going to make a public apology and the students otherwise seem to be pacified by what ever occured in the room, is there reason to suspect the college stepped in to offer the students some other form of concession in lieu of a public apology?

  22. Funny that you have to hide what you’re doing, what in a meeting about the effects of *public* comment.

  23. Takeaway is that Harbaugh won. If he issued an apology, the leftist mob would have held his scalp up for everyone to see.

    Maybe it took an hour because he had to teach them for the first time in their life that you do not have a right NOT to be offended

    Also what the hell about ‘unsafe’ for the press asking a question. People need to stand up to these scum

    1. “People need to stand up to these scum”

      TO THE PICKUP TRUCKS!

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  25. I had heard that the movie played pretty well in the middle east. Of course they’re not as fanarical over there as college students are over here.

  26. Did Lamees Mekkaoui apologize?

  27. Apologize for what….that they’re a bunch of pampered snowflakes that can’t deal with the facts of the real world.

    1. I dunno, these Muslim students would have seen that their kind of activity works in the real world. They strike me as acting rationally given the political facts.

  28. It’s just so cute how you guys care about little league teams and their coaches. Awwwww!

  29. The other amusing thing is the assumption that HE spoke to THEM. I’ll guess it was more likely that he was told that, unfortunately, sometimes explodey things happen when Muslims get their delicate feelings hurt and maybe he needs to watch his mouth in the future. Or perhaps develop a prayer mark on his forehead.

  30. This country is like 99% pussies now.

  31. “University of Michigan Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh met with about two dozen Muslim and Arab students today?supposedly to make amends for speaking out in favor of showing American Sniper on campus a few weeks ago.”

    How’s that appeasement working out for you, Jim?

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