Fordham GSAS: Grad. Life: Graduate Student Body Reacts to Ann Coulter (Dis)Invitation

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Graduate Student Body Reacts to Ann Coulter (Dis)Invitation


Hi readers,
     This week at Fordham, graduate students have been buzzing about the controversy surrounding a student organization's decision to invite, and then dis-invite, right-wing political pundit Ann Coulter to speak on campus. After the group (the College Republicans) announced the event, about two thousand other members of the student body voiced their opposition, via an electronic petition campaign, to Coulter's scheduled appearance.  The students who were opposed to Coulter's appearance on campus expressed distaste and disgust for Coulter's provocative, often inflammatory, and sometimes "hateful" views, and did not wish their student activity fees (part of the undergrad tuition bill) to fund this kind of speaker. In addition, University President Father McShane also released a statement expressing his disappointment in the group's invitation but said he would "not block the College Republicans from hosting the speaker of their choice," as to not undermine academic ideals of engagement and conversation. Yesterday, the CRs released their own statement, explaining that the event has been cancelled and Coulter's invitation rescinded. Many blogs and web-publications have picked up on the story, including Salon.com, jezebel, AJC, legal insurrection, BlackBook magazine, Newsday, Washington Examiner, Gothamist, Gather.com, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Ann Coulter
    This controversy has raised several interesting issues that we graduate students have been busy discussing via Facebook, twitter, blogs, and over coffees during study breaks and at dinner after class. Should student organizations strive to hold events that adhere to and uphold the University's community values, and avoid events that challenge these values? To what degree do, and should, speakers on campus act as a reflection of the community's views and ideals, both internally and externally? Was there a fear that Coulter's talk would galvanize feelings of intolerance and influence students' ways of thinking in a negative way? Did the bias incidents on campus last year have an effect on the community's response to the scheduled talk by Coulter? What other people would be on the same list as Ann Coulter, and why? What makes someone a good choice, and what makes someone a poor choice, and where do we draw our lines? And finally, what about other events or student movements that have been "blocked" in the past because they didn't compute with traditional Fordham values; how much should consistency be valued by our community when it comes to policies that determine what occurs on campus? Overall, the Coulter incident has provoked many questions, and not as many answers, regarding the harmony between a university's ideals and its policies on freedom of education and expression.
    I want to hear what you all think. As the graduate student body continues to weigh in on this issue, I would love to document the conversation here on the Grad.Life blog! Leave a comment here or on Facebook if you want to share any thoughts from the graduate student body about this incident or its coverage in the media.

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