Graduation speaker pressured, bows out (CSU Hayward)

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Tony Schroeder, Jun 9, 2005.

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  1. Tony Schroeder

    Tony Schroeder New Member

    Graduation speaker pressured, bows out - Some CSU students threatened boycott over his views

    Excerpt:

    Writer Richard Rodriguez, invited to speak at the California State University East Bay commencement in Hayward on Saturday, has decided to withdraw from the program after some graduating students threatened to boycott the event.

    So much for free speech.

    A happy side effect of distance learning is the avoidance of politically correct campuses.


    Tony
     
  2. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    But, always remember.....the liberals are the tolerant, compassionate ones!!!! :rolleyes:
     
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Actually, it sounds like the graduates exercised their Constitutional rights to free speech, freedom to assemble (or not), and freedom in the pursuit of happiness.

    A university is a community of scholars. Students, including graduating ones, are part of that community. On the face of it, some of that community objected to this speaker. So the community as a whole decided to act. Oh, well. Those darn freedoms!:cool:

    (NB: I have no idea who the invited speaker is, what his points of view are, etc. I'm not commenting from a political standpoint, just from one of freedom. And freedom is a fundamental principle in the U.S. and, as President Bush likes to point out, the reason why terrorists hate us.;) )
     
  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Re: Re: Graduation speaker pressured, bows out (CSU Hayward)

    Well, I read the article, and I still agree with the students. Not on the merits of their objection to Rodriguez--I happen to agree that assimilation, especially on fundamental matters like education and reading, is essential. But the students exercised their rights. If anyone is to "blame," blame the administration who caved. Or praise them for being sensitive to the graduates who, after all, were the focus of the event. Either way, it isn't about liberal or conservative. It's about decision-making, good or bad.
     
  5. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, yeah, it's all coming back to me...the last time we saw this sort of polarization on campuses was during Viet Nam.

    I HATE to see the hate filled exclusionary tactics of BOTH side in the culture war. It's BAD for the Country, BAD for the Academy, BAD for the students themselves...

    Debate and fement are essential to a free society. Censorship, whether by the University or its students, stifles debate.

    Bit I've noticed that I myself have become MUCH more radical than I ever used to be.
     
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    When I graduated from Union, the commencement speaker was, IMHO, terrible. A throw-back to Union's activist days, he seemed archaic, and his topic (the economics of urban African-Americans) was soooooo narrow. I didn't have a say in his selection, and I certainly wouldn't have chosen him if I had that power. In fact, I didn't even bother looking him up ahead of time. But if I did, I certainly could have contacted the school's administration, or even boycotted the event. And the administration could have made a switch or, much more likely, they would have blown me off. At CSU Hayward, the administration made that call in a different way, deciding in favor of the protesting students.
     
  7. katheroni

    katheroni New Member

    BYU Speaker Protest Experience and Thoughts

    I attended BYU (a very socially conservative university). Clarence Thomas was invited as a speaker on campus (not commencement, I can't remember the occassion), and the school's tiny little feminist group staged a protest (because of the Anita Hill thing, sexism, etc.) I was a member of this group, but was not in the protest, as I personally preferred to participate in the group more for idea/discussion facilitation than activism. The protest did not keep Clarence Thomas from speaking, but the administration did later sternly condemn the rudeness of the group (stating that the protest had been an embarrassment).

    OK, in my view, everyone in this situation was firmly within their rights. The feminist group had the right to protest, and the administration had a right to ignore them. The administration also had the right to respond. It is a private university, after all.

    Sure, it's rude to protest a speaker. It obviously is not a gracious, polite, or friendly response to the SPEAKER. But it is something that's allowed by the consitution, like it or not. (The extent to which this can be restricted on private property, I do not know).

    Anyway, I felt that ignoring the protest was perfectly legit and a reasonable response to a small group. But I don't think to the reprimand given to the group later was a good idea. A university is a place where speech and learning is supposed to be FOSTERED. Maybe I'm naive, or just stubbornly idealistic, but I thought it would have been better to just ignore the protest and shut-up about it. Even though it was within the RIGHTS of the administration to make the statement, I felt it reflected poorly on the academic nature of the school. BYU is a very sectarian school, and some people already view the school as inferior because of that. I feel that it is an excellent school, but there are some quirks due to its sectarian nature that can harm it, such as this example.
     
  8. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    I recall Rodriguez being among several doing commentaries on PBS. He was their only commentator who didn't come across as a self-important gasbag.
     
  9. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Re: Re: Graduation speaker pressured, bows out (CSU Hayward)

    "The community as a whole decided to act"? Where did that part come from?

    One time back when her husband was President, Hillary Clinton was commencement speaker at San Francisco State. Suppose that conservative students there had forced her to back out.

    If that had happened (it didn't), do you think that we should applaud the conservative students for silencing her?

    Actually, if that had occurred I think that we can all imagine the loud and anguished rhetoric about fascist attempts to stifle free speech.

    Those who champion the "community of scholars" ideal have an important choice to make:

    Will they permit the expression of controversial ideas? If so, then the rights of controversial speakers need to be protected.

    Or should controversial ideas simply be excluded from our campuses?
     
  10. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    Never mind that Rodriguez is a stellar prose stylist, a true master.
     
  11. katheroni

    katheroni New Member

    On what are we in agreement?

    Just wondering here, can I assume that, regardless of the merits or political leanings of the speaker, we are in agrement on the following:

    -A university can select whatever commencement speaker they want. They could select a Catholic bishop, or an ex-governor, or an author, or a mechanic (the CarTalk brothers spoke at my brother's MIT graduation).
    -Students can individually or in groups protest this choice.
    -The university can choose to ignore student response, address it but not change their decision, or change their decision in response to the student pressure.

    If we do agree on all the above, then if the university does change its decision, is that censorship of the speaker? And is censorship not allowed? I suppose it gets thorny because we're on a public university here...

    Practically speaking, it seems to that simply selecting one speaker and not another could be considered "censorship." It's a very difficult line to draw. Generally, a community does have a desire to squelch certain ideas and promote others, although it's rarely homogenous across all members. There's always a struggle between free speech and freedom for a community to (democratically) impose values. Some values are going to be imposed at some point, right? Whose?

    If we're not in agreement on the above points (or someone feels that they are stated in an overly biased way), then what are we really talking about here?
     

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