The Faculty Senate Diversity Committee laments the events that took place on Thursday, Nov. 14, and Monday, Nov. 18, the first outside the University Union on the Spine, and the second in and outside of Lecture Hall 8. Students with opposing political views clashed. The first was peacefully resolved whereas the second one led to police intervention with rough treatment of some students and the arrest of one of them.
We praise Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs, for a prompt statement that recognizes the provocative nature of the activities of the first group on both days.
We lament that the second group fell into the trap and proceeded to disrupt a speaker brought in by the first group. Even though campus police were successful in de-escalating the Thursday confrontation, and we applaud them for that, their lack of enough preparation for the Monday evening event and their rough treatment of students leaves much to be desired.
We are very concerned with the threats in Rose’s statement that Binghamton University will pursue charges and disciplinary actions, as it is not clear against whom they will be directed. Actions by BU College Republicans and Turning Point USA are part of a much larger attempt to generate conflicts and disruptions on college campuses nationwide, in preparation for a very contested presidential election in fall 2020.
We believe that freedom of speech should be respected from all sources, especially those one does not agree with. More importantly, one should not fall into the trap of disrupting an opponent’s speech, thereby giving their opponents an excuse to claim to be “victims of left-wing bullies,” and to claim administration inaction against the provocateurs.
Lubna Chaudhry is co-chair to the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee and an associate professor of human development.