SMU Volleyball Cancels Invitation to Daughter of Fallen Cop, Saying It 'Could Be Insensitive'
Southern Methodist University invited, then disinvited, the teenage daughter of a Dallas police officer, who was killed in the line of duty, to hit the honorary serve at a volleyball game this week. The reason they gave for rescinding the invitation was, "In light of recent events and diversity within the SMU community, the demonstration could be deemed insensitive." After an outcry ensued, the university apologized and re-extended the invitation, but failed to give an adequate explanation for why it was spiked in the first place.
Heidi Smith, the mother of Victoria, the high school volleyball player who was told she was not longer welcome to hit the honorary first serve, shared the email she received from a university official Thursday night on Facebook.
Her husband, 55-year-old Sgt. Michael Smith, was one of five officers killed by a lone gunman during an attack after a July protest. Nine other officers and two civilians were injured in the attack.
"Victoria was scheduled to serve an honorary serve at the SMU volleyball game this Saturday to honor her Dad," Heidi Smith wrote in the post. "This is the email they sent me today to back out ... I had to read it to Victoria after dinner tonight."
The email said there would no longer be an honorary first serve at Saturday's game against South Florida due to a communication breakdown and concerns about optics.
"The volleyball program was not correctly informed that this would be taking place at the game," the email Smith shared reads. It continues saying that "the demonstration could be deemed insensitive."
Smith redacted the name of the sender, who does not explain what recent events would make the honorary first serve appear inappropriate, though there have been demonstrations across the country against President-elect Donald Trump.
The email also did not explain what the diversity of the university has to do with honoring a slain police officer. Smith and the four other officers killed July 7 were ambushed as a demonstration against the killings of black men by cops was ending.
After a massive backlash, a university spokeswoman released a statement saying that the volleyball program apologizes for "the mix-up."
On Friday, the SMU Volleyball program extends its sincere apologies to the Smith family and is reaching out this morning to speak directly to Mrs. Smith to apologize and reinforce that the invitation stands. This incident does not reflect SMU values. Due to a change in staffing, there was a breakdown in communication that led to this unfortunate situation. This communication to Mrs. Smith would never have occurred if proper approval and communications procedures had been followed. The invitation was intended to help a family heal, and we very much look forward to Victoria's first serve in the volleyball match Saturday.
SMU values the service and sacrifices of all first responders and honored Victoria's father, Sgt. Michael Smith, as well as Dallas police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, and Patrick Zamarripa, DART Officer Brent Thompson, SMU Officer Mark McCullers and University Park Fire Department Chief Bob Poynter at the annual First Responders football game earlier this fall.