Rice deserves a platform

Efforts to stop Condoleezza Rice’s speech threaten the University’s commitment to free speech.

Condoleezza Rice is set to speak at Northrop Memorial Auditorium on April 17 as part of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs Distinguished Carlson Lecture Series. The Carlson Family Foundation is funding the event.

Rice’s visit is sure to provoke dialogue, as most guests of her stature would. Unfortunately, a group of University of Minnesota students would rather stifle dialogue than promote it.

The Minnesota Daily reported Monday that Students for a Democratic Society  requested the University Faculty Senate to vote on a resolution asking the Humphrey School to cancel Rice’s invitation.

In a Star Tribune opinion piece, SDS member Nick Theis wrote that Rice’s invitation to speak at the University “cannot go unchallenged” and explained his decision to submit a resolution calling for the University to rescind her invitation to speak. Members of SDS had a similar reaction to Karl Rove, a former senior advisor to Bush, when he spoke at the University in 2010.

 It’s unlikely the University Faculty Senate will entertain the request, and if they do, it will not hold water. Efforts to keep Rice from speaking because students may not agree with her views or policy decisions threatens the University’s commitment to freedom of expression and fostering diverse opinions.

Theis goes on to say that by allowing Rice to speak, “we are indirectly but strongly endorsing” her work in the Bush administration. This notion misses the point of the lecture series, which aims to bring “provocative” speakers and spark conversation.

While students have expressed interest in discussing potential criminal conduct with Rice, it’s unlikely she’ll talk much about the war in Iraq or other conflicts. Rice will speak about overcoming discrimination she faced growing up.

We hope the audience is respectful and supports the University’s commitment to fostering diverse views.