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Horowitz Speech Sparks Campus Ire By: Jennifer Sutcliffe and Andrew Ackerman
EmoryWheel.com | Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Members of Black Student Alliance are demanding an apology from College Republicans and a political science professor almost two weeks after conservative political activist David Horowitz spoke on campus.

Since the Oct. 9 speech, the controversy has been fueled by a string of public e-mails that began with a message on Oct. 11 from BSA President Candace Bacchus and continued with responses from Horowitz in the form of an e-mail to Emory administrators and a column last week in his online magazine at www.FrontPageMag.com.

The salvo of e-mails has heightened emotions among black students who stop short of calling Horowitz's speech racist but say it was intentionally inflammatory. Though members of College Republicans maintain Horowitz said things some students simply did not want to hear, the College Council is considering changing the rules that govern how it will financially support student groups who bring outside speakers.

In his remarks, Horowitz addressed a number of topics, including slave reparations and the likely war in Iraq. Bacchus said most students were offended by the question and answer session after the speech, in which Horowitz called a black student "half-educated" after she questioned the statistics in his claim that 75 percent of blacks are middle class.

Bacchus maintained in her public e-mail that College Republicans, which sponsored the speech, should apologize because students left the talk offended "on racial lines."

"It's not an apology for what Horowitz said. It's not an apology for an opinion," Bacchus said in an interview with the Wheel. "It's an apology from the College Republicans to the Black Student Alliance and its members because students left that program angry ... on racial lines, not political lines."

Bacchus said the College Republicans did not take the time to fully understand the repercussions of Horowitz's comments. She said BSA would never get away with inviting a speaker as controversial as Horowitz.

"If we were to ... bring someone to campus who would incite or outrage another student population here, or a student organization, we would not be funded to bring him and we would be reprimanded for trying to bring him here," Bacchus said.

Over fall break, the leaders of BSA, College Republicans and Student Government Association signed a joint statement that condemned attacks against students from within or outside Emory. Bacchus said the statement was made after she received threatening e-mails and Dan Hauck, president of College Republicans, received a harassing phone call.

But Bacchus stuck to her demand for an apology, which was forwarded to the Wheel. In her initial open letter to the community, she wrote that Horowitz had violated the terms of his contract with Emory by straying from the topic of his speech: political bias on college campuses.

Bacchus also wrote that a number of black students who attended the speech were subject to special security measures for the Horowitz speech.

"[T]he moment that African American students express an interest in observing a controversial speaker not of their own invitation, these University policies are doubly enforced to tame us," Bacchus wrote.

The message also demands an apology from Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Politics and History Harvey Klehr, who moderated the event. In the e-mail, Bacchus partially blames Klehr for allowing the talk lose focus.

Klehr, an adviser to College Republicans, said he was an old friend of Horowitz and insisted he did his job as moderator and that the event was a success.

"I did not think myself or College Republicans should apologize for anything," Klehr said. "If Bacchus didn't want her name around the country, she shouldn't have engaged in a political debate."

Hauck said BSA has a perfect right to criticize Horowitz and his ideas, but said his group objects to efforts to penalize and punish the students who bring controversial groups to Emory. He said he would not apologize.

"The grounds that he spoke off topic is clearly something that no other student organization is accountable to," Hauck said.

In his online column, Horowitz wrote that Bacchus' letter was meant to prevent a conservative voice on campus and to silence opposition to BSA and its political agendas.

"It displayed the intellectual thuggery of the campus left in all its glory -- wave the bloody shirt, whine about victimization, stigmatize your opponents and demand subservience to the party line," Horowitz wrote.

Horowitz could not be reached for comment as of press time Sunday evening.

College Council President Purvi Patel said that the Council could not revoke the $5,000 it had paid to help bring Horowitz to campus even if it wanted to, since the check had already been sent to Horowitz.

Patel said the Council was looking to "solidify" a new protocol that would require organizations to provide more background on the speakers they intend to bring to campus with Council funds.

Currently, when students apply for funding, they must complete a speaker's report that includes some background information. But Patel said they might demand more information in the future.

"College Council is really interested in making sure that all viewpoints of students are represented on campus," Patel said. "But we do realize that we take the proper precautions to make sure not that speakers aren't controversial but that they're not offensive."


Wheel rejects ads

On Friday the Wheel rejected two full-page ads proposed by Horowitz's California-based Center for the Study of Popular Culture. The proposed ads included Horowitz's e-mail response to Bacchus' complaint and the column that appeared on his Web site.

Editor in Chief Christopher Wang said the ads were rejected partly because they were personal attacks against an individual student. Wang also said the ads gave too much attention to the controversy.

"Running it as two full-page ads would simply blow the subject of the letter out of proportion," Wang said.

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