Letters to the Editor

Letter: Kelly committee seeks ‘dispassionate’ review

Monday, November 25, 2013

Oftentimes an event that generates debates and concerns is an opportunity for reflection and positive action. The events surrounding New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s visit allow us to have one such moment here at Brown. Last week, as part of that process of reflection, President Christina Paxson appointed a committee with the following charges:

• To provide a full accounting of the circumstances that led to the protest;

• To review broadly the climate on campus around issues of free expression and dialogue and to make a set of recommendations about this climate.

The committee has begun its work focusing on the first aspect of its charge. We will (a) gather materials related to the organization and marketing of the event and (b) meet with the event organizers, students and administrators who attended the lecture and those who participated in the protest.

In all of this we will be guided by a single concern: to find out in as accurate and dispassionate a way as possible the circumstances culminating in the protest of Kelly’s visit. We are not collecting evidence for possible action against any student, and therefore in our report the names of anyone interviewed, including the students, will remain anonymous. Our objective is solely to investigate the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the event to ascertain those factors that contributed to its outcome and not to single out any individual.

The committee hopes to engage the Brown community in its work, particularly in addressing our second charge. We recognize that there are forums and other activities planned to address these issues, and we welcome them. This is a crucial matter for the entire University community, and it needs as much debate and discussion as possible to produce a way forward that continues the distinctive strengths of this great university.


Anthony Bogues

Committee chair, professor of Africana studies and director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice

Lyn Crost

Professor of social sciences and critical theory


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