Beyond the Hill

You are cordially uninvited: Fordham University College Republicans rescind speaking invitation to Ann Coulter after campus outcry

Last week, the College Republicans at Fordham University announced that a well-known public figure was coming to speak on campus.

But within a day the event was canceled.

On Nov. 8, the College Republicans at Fordham invited Republican pundit Ann Coulter to speak at the Rose Hill campus on Nov. 29. After meeting immediate opposition from many in the student body, though, the group rescinded its invitation to the speaker, The Observer reported on Nov. 10.

“The College Republicans regret the controversy surrounding our planned lecture featuring Ann Coulter,” said Ted Conrad, the president of the Fordham College Republicans, in an email posted by the Observer. “The size and severity of opposition to this event have caught us by surprise, and caused us to question our decision to welcome her to Rose Hill.”

The opposition Conrad mentions in the email came from students who are familiar with Coulter’s notoriety. Sean Egan, a sophomore communications major at Fordham, said Coulter is widely known for using her political platform to spread polemical views.

Coulter is outspoken about her opposition to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, and she has condemned Jews, Muslims, Democrats and many others with hateful and degrading speech, he said. One need not look further than Coulter’s Twitter account to understand the controversy surrounding her, Egan said.

“I guess Ann Coulter is a conservative personality who bases her media persona on being purposefully controversial to get attention,” Egan said.

For example, Coulter tweeted on Oct. 16, “Last Thursday was national ‘coming out’ day. This Monday is national ‘disown your son’ day.”

Amalia Vavala, a sophomore art history major, immediately voiced her opposition to the event and set up an online petition to prevent Coulter from coming to campus.

“As soon as the news broke that Coulter was coming to Fordham, my friends and I made a make-shift group,” she said.

This group contacted clubs and departments and set up a Facebook group to reach students, Vavala said. Social media was crucial in spreading the word about Coulter, and within 24 hours, the petition had more than 2,000 signatures, Vavala said.

The president of Fordham, Rev. Joseph McShane, emailed the student body on Nov. 9, The Observer reported on Nov. 9. He said in the email he was disappointed in the “judgment and maturity of the College Republicans,” but would not call the event off.

Student groups have the right to invite speakers who “represent diverse, and sometimes unpopular, points of view,” McShane said in the email.

Shortly afterward, the College Republicans announced they had disinvited Coulter from the event. Conrad took the blame for not having researched Coulter before extending the invitation and apologized for the incident, The Observer reported on Nov. 10.

The news of the event’s cancellation was largely met with relief and excitement. Stephen Erdman, the executive president of the United Student Government at Fordham, said he was happy the College Republicans “had the ability to judge the future of the event.”

Erdman also said the student government is dealing with the aftermath of Coulter’s cancellation. He said promoting “academic discourse on campus” is his priority because he feels it will help foster an atmosphere where varying viewpoints can be shared.

Nevertheless, students like Vavala are happy Coulter will not be sharing her inflammatory views at Fordham, which is a private university.

“Free speech is always open in public spheres,” Vavala said. “We simply did not want her speaking in a private sphere like Fordham.”


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