U of C, Protect A Speaker's Right to be Heard: Sponsor the West-Dix Dialogue
The University of Chicago claims to support rigorous inquiry as well as the free exchange of ideas.
Yet, when a coalition of RSOs organized a speaking event with Cornel West and Carl Dix to discuss the Trayvon Martin killing, officials in the Office of Campus and Student Life withdrew university sponsorship, effectively canceling the event two weeks before it was to occur.
Scheduled for the evening of May 7th in the International House's Assembly Hall, West and Dix had planned on debating the issues of unemployment, police harassment, and mass incarceration facing our nation's youth.
Perhaps more importantly, the West-Dix dialogue was to be the first campus-wide discussion of the controversial Trayvon Martin case. .
Sign the petition and tell administrators we will not tolerate their denial of a speaker's right to be heard.
- Vice President and Dean of Students
I’m writing to you today to call for a reversal of the cancellation of the Cornel West and Carl Dix dialogue on “What Future for Our Youth?” previously scheduled for the evening of May 7th at the U of C’s International House.
Last year, you and University of Chicago Provost Thomas Rosenbaum crafted a campus-wide e-mail reiterating the university's historic commitment to rigorous inquiry:
"Constant and deliberate work is required to sustain this commitment. Argument is a central means of achieving deeper understanding and creating new knowledge. In this spirit, we engage one another and welcome campus speakers with viewpoints across the intellectual and political spectrum. We must protect a speaker's right to be heard, just as we have a responsibility to challenge their ideas with honesty, vigor, and respect."
The University of Chicago claims to honor the value of freedom of expression. Yet, this university’s commitment to this value was undermined when when a coalition of RSOs abruptly discovered that university officials had withdrawn university sponsorship of a speaking event with Cornel West, one of the nation's leading public intellectuals, and Carl Dix, a revolutionary communist and initiator of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.This event was going to bring West and Dix together in a spirited discussion of unemployment, police harassment, and mass incarceration as issues facing our nation's youth in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Instead of welcoming these speakers, officials in the Office of Campus and Student Life effectively canceled their event.
As the last year’s message suggest, when students work together to bring speaker across a wide intellectual and political spectrum to debate pressing issues, administrators should commend them, rather than obstruct their efforts.
Please support a speaker’s right to be heard. Reverse the cancellation of the West-Dix dialogue.
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