I was excited to read the letter by the English Graduate Solidarity Coalition. In it, they demand that IU exclude speakers from campus if the event may require security, be poorly attended or heavily criticized, “pause” student access to campus buildings or promote “dubious scholarship.” They demand the right to access any event, confront speakers and require speakers to do a question-and-answer session. Finally, they demand that IU be more transparent about events on campus.
I’d like to make a modest proposal: The EGSC should put its bold vision into action.
First, they should notify the Provost before holding any meeting, event, rally or protest on campus, so the Provost can be more “transparent” in alerting critics of the time and place for accessing the event and confronting any speakers. This will provide an example to the 750+ student organizations and countless academic units at IU who may hold events on campus.
Second, the EGSC should open all of their meetings, events, rallies and protests on campus to the public, and allocate sufficient time and space to accommodate anyone who wishes to confront a speaker. When you include the mandatory question-and-answer session, you could be in for some long nights.
Finally, the EGSC should use contracts with paid speakers and vendors that excuse them from the contract if the Provost cancels the event, based on her determination that the event may be poorly attended or heavily criticized, may require security or impede student access to campus buildings, or may promote dubious scholarship.
I hope to see the EGSC’s members “live their values” at their next event. I’ve got my bullhorn, pot suitable for banging and speech entitled “Careful What You Wish For.” If I cannot attend, perhaps they can reschedule for a time when I won’t threaten violent protest until the Provost cancels the event. After all, I have a right to defend myself against speech that threatens to harm me.
In the words of Jonathan Swift, “I can think of no one objection that will possibly be raised against this proposal.”