UK Student Applauded for Response to Campus Visit from “Gun Girl”

HCHS graduate Michael Hawse has taken his fame from viral video to benefit pediatric cancer.

The new semester can be full of surprises with difficult classes and unpredictable weather. But University of Kentucky students returning to campus after winter break found one more surprise: they’d gone viral.

Conservative personality and host of the YouTube channel Liberty Hangout, Kaitlin Bennett interviewed UK students late last year. In a video published in November 2019 entitled “College Students Have No Morals,” Bennett asked these students questions about whether urinals and tampon dispensers should be installed in women’s and men’s bathrooms, respectively. She also inquired whether they believed men could have periods. 

Bennett, who did not respond to requests for comment, appeared to want to provoke her interviewees into criticizing efforts to be inclusive of transgender individuals. However, most of the students in the interview supported these measures.

“That’s fine,” said one student. “If it makes them feel more comfortable, I don’t mind.”

Although the video was published a few months ago, it has recently gained attention on Twitter. In particular, a January 10 tweet from Lilith Lovett (@LilithLovett) has garnered over 138 thousand retweets and over 626 thousand likes, as of January 14. Lovett did not respond to requests for comment.

The Tweet displays a clip of Bennett interviewing UK sophomore and Henry Clay High School graduate Michael Hawse. Despite her repeated questions about including urinals in women’s restrooms, Hawse is pointedly neutral.

There’s no point in stoking anger in one another solely to get a gotcha bit or a sound bite.

— Michael Hawse

“I think people are just making too big of a f***ing deal about it,” he says in the video. “I don’t really care.”

Replies to the tweet, which describes Hawse as “an absolute KING” for his refusal to engage, were mixed. 

Some replies called Bennett “hateful” and an “extremist” and applauded Hawse for his continued noncommittal stance.

Others criticized the sophomore saying that installing urinals and sanitary products would waste “tax dollars.

Yet others say Hawse was mistaken for the opposite reason: not going far enough.

“I wish the people on UK’s campus had had a stronger response,” Dunbar junior Zoë Jenkins said. 

Still, Jenkins also believes that Bennett “was trying to rile them up, and for the most part, they did a very good job of responding politely to her intentionally inflammatory questions.”

Whatever public opinion may be, Hawse is untroubled. In his opinion, people like Bennett are “hypocritical.”

“They say ‘I believe in personal liberties,’ but then they’re like, ‘I want to choose what you do with your body,’” Hawse said, referring to Bennett and others. 

Although Hawse is aware of the criticism he has received on Twitter, he says his experience has been “nothing but” positive. He stands by the way he responded to Bennett’s questions when she approached him on campus.

“The whole point of what she’s doing is to stoke anger. And the only way that you can keep her from getting her way is to do the opposite of what she wants you to do,” Hawse said. “There’s no point in stoking anger in one another solely to get a gotcha bit or a sound bite.”

“The point that I was trying to get across, [especially given] the fact that I’m a white, cis, straight male, is the fact that it is none of my business what people want to do in the bathroom. It is none of my business what people want to do with their bodies,” he added. 

As some of his friends noted, Hawse’s reaction was informed by his experience on his school’s speech and debate team.

“It was definitely something we had learned in PF [debate], where you want to avoid giving them the answer that they want to hear at all costs,” Hawse said.

Whatever the merits of Hawse’s response, he has decided to use his moment of fame for good. On his personal Twitter account, he shared a link to a fundraiser for the Pi Kappa Alpha 2020 DanceBlue Team, which raises money for patients with pediatric cancer.

“I saw her as coming towards me trying to get [a response of] anger, and I think the best way to combat that is to retroactively find the positive outcome from it,” he said. “That was the best thing I could’ve possibly done – we’ve raised two thousand dollars over the past two days.”