Bucknell Administration: Rep. Pat Toomey is Not Welcome Here, but Nader will Speak · 05 April 2004

Yet presidential candidate Ralph Nader will deliver commencement address

LEWISBURG, PA - Bucknell University general counsel Wayne Bromfield has refused to allow Congressman Pat Toomey to give a speech on campus because he is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. However, left-wing activist Ralph Nader is still being permitted to give the University's commencement address, despite the fact that he is running for president. Nader will be paid $13,000 for his commencement speech, which happens to be $13,000 more than the BUCC planned to pay Toomey.

The Bucknell University Conservatives Club (BUCC) invited Toomey to campus to give a speech on April 8 on the topic of "civic engagement," under the condition that he would "not solicit contributions or workers for his campaign or attack campaign opponents while at the University." According to an account in The Bucknellian, the same speech topic and conditions were imposed on Nader due to a University policy stipulating that no single political candidate can appear on campus during an election year.

"This decision is blatant hypocrisy," BUCC president Charles Mitchell stated. "If the Bucknell administration is willing to break its own rules to have Ralph Nader come talk about 'civic engagement,' then it should be willing to do the same for Pat Toomey."

Mitchell continued, "This policy is just one more ridiculous Bucknell restriction on free speech, and not surprisingly, it's only enforced against certain speech. Selective repression such as this has no place in a free society, much less at a university. Apparently Bucknell's official version of 'diversity' doesn't include conservative congressmen."

In an email sent to BUCC vice president for special events Dominic Rupprecht, Bromfield defended his decision on the basis that when Nader was invited to speak on campus he was not yet a candidate, whereas Toomey was. But this is a straw man, according to Rupprecht: "Ralph Nader's candidacy for the presidency of the United States certainly could have been anticipated by any reasonable observer of American politics. He had run in 1996 and 2000, and gave every indication that he would do so again."

Bromfield also told Rupprecht, "There is no reason for Pat Toomey to come to Bucknell in the month he is seeking to win a primary nomination other than to promote his candidacy. Whatever the text of his speech, that is transparently the intent." This is an interesting argument, given that the BUCC as an organization cannot and does not endorse candidates. (Several BUCC officers have endorsed Rep. Toomey as individuals, but that is another matter.)

As Rupprecht put it in an email to Bromfield, "Congressman Toomey's speech is not, I repeat, is not intended to promote his candidacy. Nowhere in his speech will the Congressman ask for votes, advocate his election, or urge the defeat of his opponent. We invited Congressman Toomey, a hero of the conservative movement, to discuss the crucial issues of the day and the fact that Bucknell students ought to do something about them, i.e. be civically engaged."

BUCC vice president for finance Dawn Meling added, "I must say I find it interesting that Mr. Bromfield apparently could not reasonably conclude that Mr. Nader would run for the presidency, but does have magical foreknowledge regarding what Rep. Toomey would speak about."

Given Bromfield's decision, Toomey is instead giving a campaign speech in downtown Lewisburg, less than 500 feet from campus. The speech will take place at the Brynwood Room, at the corner of Sixth and Market Streets in downtown Lewisburg, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM on April 8. That event will not be sponsored by the BUCC, but rather by Toomey's supporters in Union County. The BUCC will be encouraging members of the Bucknell community to attend solely because of Toomey's ability to intelligently articulate a principled conservative viewpoint.

"It's a shame this conservative hero has been banned from campus," Rupprecht said, "but even as a New Jersey resident who couldn't vote for him for anything, I'm really excited to meet him. Also, Rep. Toomey's visit will hopefully make a very important point: that Bucknell's policy on political candidates is simply unreasonable and should be repealed, and until that date arrives, equitably enforced by the administration."

The Bucknell University Conservatives Club was founded in September 2001 to combat the systematic exclusion of conservative, libertarian, and classical liberal ideas from the University. It publishes a well-known magazine, The Counterweight, and has hosted many speakers, most recently Ben Stein. One of the most successful student political organizations in the country, it was featured on the cover of the May 25, 2003 New York Times Magazine and has also received coverage from other broadcast and print media including MTV, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, the Washington Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and NPR.

For more information, contact:

Charles Mitchell, BUCC president: 570.577.5057 or pres@bucknellconservatives.org

Wayne Bromfield, Bucknell general counsel: 570.577.1149 or wbromfld@bucknell.edu

Yvonne Morgan, Union County Toomey campaign chair: amorgan@ceinetworks.com