Letters to the Editor, Opinions

Letter: SPEAK report ignores lived experiences of politics

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

To the Editor:

I appreciate the concise and valuable data that SPEAK has compiled about discourse on campus, explained in The Herald’s March 5 article “Study finds most hosted speakers lean left politically.” However, I don’t think this committee has sufficiently explained what exactly they want conservative voices to provide.

We know that the right today includes anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, oil-funded climate change denial, hypocritical statements on sexual harassment and a refusal to consider systemic racism in the United States. SPEAK is probably not interested in discourses that would directly target students since they asserted against inviting agitators, like Ann Coulter or Steve Bannon, who simply seek to insult and inflame.

Nevertheless, many of these views are not just fringe opinions but common talking points that contribute to the mainstream, right-leaning dialogue. In other words, in 2018 conservatism has collapsed into Trumpism — the same Trumpism that actively threatens Brown’s most vulnerable community members. SPEAK could have made an effort to explain how they defined conservatism, especially in relation to Trumpism.

I’m especially stunned that Sean Spicer — a man who in the early days of the Trump administration so willingly lied to the country —  is on the chart of suggested speakers published in SPEAK’s report without comment. If universities are marketplaces of ideas, SPEAK could have used the space to reflect on the responsibility of universities to remember and frame those complicit in bad faith authoritarianism.

Without these annotations, the SPEAK report functionally turns the lived experience of politics into a checklist. A checklist I’m not convinced many students will follow.

Joseph DiZoglio ’15 MD’20