Journalists were barred from a meeting Wednesday between University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh, college administrators, and a number of students who were offended by a tweet in support of airing “American Sniper” on-campus in April.
Robby Soave, the editor of Reason magazine, wrote on the magazine’s website that he went to the student union to attend Harbaugh’s meeting, but was forced by to leave the room once the coach arrived, after telling an organizer he was a journalist.
Soave added that a woman who had access to the room during the meeting approached him while he was outside the door and asked if he had taken any pictures. He said he had taken one of Harbaugh, and asked to be allowed in the room to listen to the discussion.
The woman declined his request and told him not to take any more pictures, saying he was making the students "unsafe."
The college newspaper, The Michigan Daily, reported about 15 students and several administrators met with Harbaugh during the closed-door discussion.
When asked about the closed-door aspect of the meeting, Rick Fitzgerald, the university’s public relations director, told The Michigan Daily that it was intended to be private.
Attendees also refused to comment after the meeting concluded, although Harbaugh told a reporter that the forum “went great.”
The controversy originally came to light after Harbaugh voiced support for an airing of the film after the university reversed their decision to show it. Harbaugh said he would air “American Sniper” with the Wolverine football team.
“Michigan Football will watch “American Sniper”! Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!” Harbaugh’s April 8 tweet read.
The university originally planned an on-campus airing of the film, portraying late former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, but reversed course after several Arab and Muslim students balked at the decision.
FoxNews.com reported in April that a protest petition garnered more than 300 signatures from students demanding the showing be cancelled.
"The movie 'American Sniper' not only tolerates but promotes anti-Muslim and anti-MENA [Muslim, Middle Eastern and North African] rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer," the letter read in part. It also referred to Kyle as a “racist.”
“American Sniper” was ultimately shown, but with a concurrent airing of “Paddington,” a film based on a children’s book series about a bear adopted by a British family, for protesting students.