Ann Coulter was scheduled to speak at Fordham University on November 29. Her appearance, organized by the conservative club on campus and funded by the school, would have marked the first time this fall a conservative addressed the Fordham student body.
Upon the announcement this week of the event, the conservative club was routinely attacked by others on campus. In fact, one member was singled out as a racist on a Tumblr blog that has since been removed.
Adding to the attacks against the club was the university president, Joseph McShane. Instead of welcoming Ann Coulter and encouraging students to consider her ideas, he issues an email to students, alumni, and faculty blasting the club for inviting her to speak.
He writes that groups area allowed to bring speakers with "diverse viewpoints" and that the school won't block her from speaking, yet he felt compelled to openly attack the conservative group leadership for hosting her. The text of his email follows:
---------- Forwarded message ----------From: <The_Office_of_the_President@ fordham.edu>Date: Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 2:17 PMSubject: University StatementTo: Students_on_Gmail%FIRE@ fordham.eduUniversity Statement on Ann Coulter Appearance | November 9,2012
The College Republicans, a student club at Fordham University, hasinvited Ann Coulter to speak on campus on November 29. The event isfunded through student activity fees and is not open to the publicnor the media. Student groups are allowed, and encouraged, toinvite speakers who represent diverse, and sometimes unpopular,points of view, in keeping with the canons of academic freedom.Accordingly, the University will not block the College Republicansfrom hosting their speaker of choice on campus.To say that I am disappointed with the judgment and maturity of theCollege Republicans, however, would be a tremendous understatement.There are many people who can speak to the conservative point ofview with integrity and conviction, but Ms. Coulter is not amongthem. Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative-moreheat than light-and her message is aimed squarely at the darkerside of our nature.As members of a Jesuit institution, we are called upon to deal withone another with civility and compassion, not to sling mud andimpugn the motives of those with whom we disagree or to engage inracial or social stereotyping. In the wake of several biasincidents last spring, I told the University community that I holdout great contempt for anyone who would intentionally inflict painon another human being because of their race, gender, sexualorientation, or creed."Disgust"was the word I used to sum up my feelings about thoseincidents. Hate speech, name-calling, and incivility are completelyat odds with the Jesuit ideals that have always guided and animatedFordham.Still, to prohibit Ms. Coulter from speaking at Fordham would be todo greater violence to the academy, and to the Jesuit tradition offearless and robust engagement. Preventing Ms. Coulter fromspeaking would counter one wrong with another. The old saw goesthat the answer to bad speech is more speech. This is especiallytrue at a university, and I fully expect our students, faculty,alumni, parents, and staff to voice their opposition, civilly andrespectfully, and forcefully.The College Republicans have unwittingly provided Fordham with atest of its character: do we abandon our ideals in the face ofrepugnant speech and seek to stifle Ms. Coulter's (and the studentorganizers') opinions, or do we use her appearance as anopportunity to prove that our ideas are better and our faith in theacademy-and one another-stronger? We have chosen the latter course,confident in our community, and in the power of decency and reasonto overcome hatred and prejudice.Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President