By Robbie Brown--Emory Wheel, 03/30/04
Conservative writer David Horowitz will be returning to speak on campus April 15, despite College Council's ruling last month to deny him funding, the College Republicans said this week.
Though the College Republicans have not yet generated the full $5,000 to fund Horowitz's speech, they said they are close enough to declare his visit a certainty.
College Republicans Chair Edward Thayer said the speech is set, though the location remains undetermined.
"It will happen - barring Armageddon," Thayer said. "There are no two ways about it."
College Council voted at a meeting Feb. 11 against funding Horowitz's speech because they said his presence would divide the campus along racial fault lines.
Council members' opposition to the speaker was based primarily on his personal confrontation in October 2002 with then-Black Student Alliance President Candace Bacchus during a speech in Glenn Memorial Auditorium.
Bacchus charged Horowitz with calling her "half-educated," though he maintained the phrase was meant to apply to the entire student body, tying into the speech's theme of liberal bias in academia. Horowitz accused Bacchus of reverse racism and cowardice on the Internet and in the Wheel.
After the Council rejected their funding request, the College Republicans solicited donations from students, alumni and national conservative organizations.
They received a $2,000 contribution from the Young America's Foundation, an organization that promotes conservatism on college campuses, leaving them with $3,000 to self-generate.
The College Republicans have at least $1,950 in the bank, but are confident based on the number of unfulfilled pledges that they will reach $3,000. He said they drew one third of their funding from students, another third from parents and alumni, and a final third from "concerned" individuals and organizations.
Thayer said they expected to collect a further $650 from alums at the start of the week and the rest before Saturday.
"I would effectively say we raised the money," he said. "We're in that gray area where we're going to go ahead with the event, but we don't have the money in the bank."
Though Thayer vowed to be "over the hurdle" by Saturday, he said he had a backup plan in store. Thayer said several "suburban Republicans who are concerned about what is happening at Emory" have told him, "'Whatever you need, come to us.'"
"It's like a lifeline on that show with Regis Philbin," Thayer said. "I don't want to use my lifeline unless I have to."
Horowitz said he will definitely speak, though he wants to make sure the College Republicans raise the full $5,000 first. Though he refused to go into details about the finances, Horowitz said that if the College Republicans could not raise the money on their own, he would come anyway.
"I will come," he said emphatically. "I will keep coming back to Emory until Emory drops its boycott of me."
Thayer predicted reaction against the event would be modest compared to the wave of complaints that followed last year's speech. He said any criticism of the event is unjustified since the College Republicans is raising the money independently.
"I don't see how there could be a backlash," he said. "Emory is a mature and adult community that can handle academic diversity - especially when they don't have to pay for it. We're not expecting any more than a little resistance from the usual suspects."
Black Student Alliance President Samuel Wakefield refused to speak on behalf of the BSA before meeting with other members of the organization's executive board, but he said the BSA had known that the event would probably occur for more than a week and was preparing an official response.
Bacchus would not predict whether Horowitz would cause another controversy, but said she disapproved of the choice of speaker.
"Personally, I didn't think it was the best thing for the Emory community," she said. "I really don't think it's a good idea."
Former College Council President Amanda Edwards said the Council had not banned Horowitz from campus, but only voted against funding his speech.
"They have the right to bring that particular speaker if they want," she said.
Both Thayer and Horowitz said the topic of the speech will be the suppression of conservative thought on college campuses.
Thayer said the speech would also expand to "incorporate current Emory events," including the Council's decision to deny Horowitz funding.
Horowitz said he still opposes College Council's decision, and would not have felt restricted if the University funded his speech rather than the College Republicans.
"I spoke in communist Poland when it was a dictatorship," he said. "This is America. People get to say what they want."