The students who shouted down Ray Kelly at Brown University have received some support on campus, most notably from three faculty members, Linda Quiquivix, Naoko Shibusawa, William Keach.

The Brown administration, however, was not at all pleased and is convening a panel to examine whether to commence disciplinary action against the shout-downers for violating campus policy.

There also has been widespread condemnation of the shout-down from students, who according to one poll, overwhelmingly were against the shout-down, but not against a protest outside the lecture hall.

Brown Daily Herald poll Ray Kelly protest

The majority of students at Brown appear able to distinguish that which Profs. Quiquivix, Shibusawa and Keach, and the student protesters themselves are unable to do: It’s one thing to protest, it’s another thing to shout-down.

The shout-downers are in a hole, so they have decided to keep digging, with an “anonymous” column in The Brown Daily Herald, Organizers and supporters of the demonstration against Ray Kelly: Standing for racial justice: A public statement .

It is a model of how grievance politics and loopy leftist social power theories pervert campus politics.  There was nothing that prevented the students from presenting their own views; they could have held a counter-lecture, protested outside (which they also did), or done any number of things to get their view across and present counter-arguments.  Instead, they opted to prevent Kelly from speaking, and thereby crossed a line which apparently is invisible to them.

Read the whole thing, here’s an excerpt:

We are students who organized and supported the Oct. 29 demonstration against the University’s decision to provide a speaking platform to New York City Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly. We continue to stand by our actions and the anti-racist goals that motivated them.

In view of the denunciations we have received from President Christina Paxson, media outlets and other students, we put forth this statement to tell our side of the story on why and how we organized.

First, we organized because students have a right to feel safe at their university…. It is unacceptable to invite a speaker to campus who makes students feel threatened or intimidated. Our demonstration was an act of self-defense. We protected our rights to feel safe on the campus we now call home.

We remain unconvinced that this lecture would have permitted a free exchange of ideas….The event was designed as a lecture to give Kelly the primary voice in the room, guaranteeing that any alternative perspective would be placed in a position of lesser power and authority….

In the end, we decided only collective action would protect the rights of students and the larger Providence community and enable us to participate in discussions from a position of equal power and without fear….

Organizers and supporters met after the vigil [the night before the lecture] to discuss tactics for Tuesday’s demonstration. Our plan involved the reading of a collective statement and individual testimonies throughout the lecture. During the question-and-answer session, demonstration supporters would share their stories and challenge Ray Kelly with questions. Though our petition had called for the event’s cancellation, our original plan was not to shut down the lecture but to reclaim the power in the lecture hall by giving voice to our stories….

A subset of organizers and supporters entered the lecture as audience members. The first two rows in the auditorium were reserved for “community members,” almost all of whom were white male police officers, including Providence Commissioner of Public Safety Steven M. Pare. After Ray Kelly was introduced, supporters of the demonstration stood up, raised their fists and read the following collective statement: “Asking tough questions is not enough. Brown is complicit. If Brown won’t recognize it, then we must. We stand in solidarity with the Providence anti-racism movement and all those impacted by racial profiling.” ….

In Brown’s history, student voices have been critical in pushing the University to adopt the progressive and open-minded approach to education that it currently boasts. The establishment of the ethnic studies program, the Africana Studies Department, the Third World Center, the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, need-blind admission and even the implementation of the Open Curriculum were all results of battles won through student activism and organizing.

This demonstration against racial profiling has similarly pushed against the status quo and sparked conversations on the issue of racism at Brown, in Providence and beyond. We also hope it has forced the administration to reexamine Brown’s complicity in systemic racism. As we move forward, we hope to continue these conversations in ways that hold the University accountable to its students and the wider Providence community….

The authors’ names have been kept private due to their concerns about possible punishment from the University.


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