DePauw Officials Apologize to David Horowitz and the College Republicans · 13 May 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

By FrontPage Magazine--05/14/04

On Monday, we posted a press release by the DePauw College Republicans, responding to an attack on their organization and on Republicans generally by the Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the college. In effect, the statement pointed out that the attack violated the spirit of diversity and was entirely inappropriate coming from university staff. The publicity provided by the Frontpage Magazine article drew an immediate response. We post here the emails of apology from Mr. Ken Owen, Director of Media Relations at DePauw, and the Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Jeannette Johnson-Licon, along with my responses to both. We are also re-posting the original press release.
-- The Editors.

Tuesday, May 11

Mr. Horowitz,

I'm Ken Owen, director of media relations at DePauw. For the record, I wanted to let you know that the views are expressed by Ms. Johnson-Licon are hers, and not those of DePauw University.

We have had a number of speakers in recent years -- representing many facets of the political and social spectrum -- who have generated discussion, and in some cases, controversy. I consider that debate healthy, especially on a college campus.

I realize that travel problems forced you to cancel your visit to our campus, but I want you to know that should you and the College Republicans be able to work out another time for a DePauw speech, the University will welcome you.

Sincerely,

Ken Owen
Director of Media Relations
DePauw University
Greencastle, Indiana

Mr. Horowitz:

There are times in our lives when we lose our tempers and make stupid, petty mistakes.

Last Friday was one of those times for me. It began after I received an email from a concerned student about your visit (she had forwarded it to the Association of African American Students.) I looked up some of the articles you've written and have been written about you¯particularly on reparations, hate crimes, and race relations. I then met with some students of color who reacted to your visit strongly and negatively. Many of them felt that your 2001 stance on reparations, in particular, was an attack on their communities. Throughout the day, students stopped by the office to talk about your convo and to ask if I would attend your talk. After these conversations, I went back to my desk and read more websites about you, including reviews about your talks at other campuses.

By now it's public knowledge that what I read made me very angry and I regret that I reacted in a childish and inappropriate way by e-mailing some of the students with whom I work to explain why I would not attend your convocation. I made some ill-conceived and sweeping remarks about the College Republicans which I deeply regret. One of the recipients of my email then forwarded it to a member of CR. I should never have let my temper get the best of me. I have since written an apology and retraction to College Republicans and the other students who received the original email. I take full responsibility for losing my temper, behaving childishly and writing an inappropriate email. On an individual level, I do think that I have the personal right to disagree with your stance on various issues and, when the occasion demands, with students. Certainly, my right to disagree as a individual is not a right to retaliate. I assure you that I know that. As an administrator, it's my duty and obligation to serve all students to the best of my ability. I can and will do better.

My staff and I strive to be accessible and serve students from all communities; it's difficult work, especially when there are sincere disagreements and divergent points of view. We don't have all the answers; we make our share of mistakes.

I've made my fair share this week. I can't take my angry email back¯I can only acknowledge my mistakes and try harder next time.

Best,
Jeannette

May 11,

Dear Jeanette (I hope I may take the liberty of addressing you familiarly),

Thank you for your letter and your apology. We do all lose our tempers
every now and then and say or write things that we regret. It is difficult
to admit our mistakes however, and I commend you for doing so promptly and
graciously. I am especially glad to see your change of mind because the
times we live in have witnessed an ugly turn in our public debates and a
level of nastiness that is dangerous for a free society like ours. Your
position as Director of Multicultural Affairs, moreover, puts you in a key
position to make the discourse of our young people more civilized by
promoting the values of diversity and respect for difference -- a respect
that should include those with whom we disagree on political grounds.

You are probably right that we will disagree on many things. But I
assure you that our agendas -- equal treatment and respect for all races and
ethnicities -- are identical. I have been an active supporter of civil
rights for all Americans since my first march in 1948 in behalf of Harry
Truman's efforts to integrate the civil service. I have a black
daughter-in-law, three black grandchildren, two Hispanic sisters-in-law and
six Hispanic nieces and nephews. I assure you I want the best futures for
all of them.

A lot has been written and said about me that is emotional, erroneous
and often malicious. My campaign against reparations was not a campaign
against the black community. Far from it. I felt that the reparations cause
was doomed to failure, would isolate the black community from the rest of
America and sow enduring bitterness between the races. That's why I opposed
it. You and I may disagree about the merits of the case, but I hope you will
recognize the spirit in which I offered my critique. I have asked my office
to send you a copy of my book Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations
for Slavery, so that you can acquaint yourself with my version of these
events. I will be happy to discuss this with you when I come to DePauw.

I am also sending you an account of my recent appearance at Brown
University. It was attended by Dr. Ruth Simmons, the president of Brown who
is the first black president of an Ivy League school. At my speech, which
was about intellectual diversity and academic freedom, Brown's Associate
Provost and Director of Institutional Diversity, Brenda Allen, announced
that she would include intellectual diversity in her diversity mandate.
Since then Provost Allen and the diversity program at Brown have provided
moral and financial support to the Brown College Republicans, who as
elsewhere are a minority community at Brown.

I would like to work with you to encourage a similar development at
DePauw. Perhaps this incident itself can be turned to good ends by becoming
the occasion for a renewed civility and cooperation between faculty and
students and minority groups -- including conservatives -- at DePauw.

Yours,
David

(David Horowitz)


May 11

Dear Mr. Owen,

Thank you for your letter and your sentiments. I look forward to my
appearance at DePauw and would like to request that a member of your
administration introduce me at my talk. I am enclosing my letter to Jeanette
Johnson-Licon, which will speak for itself. When I am at DePauw I would like
to meet with your president to discuss making intellectual diversity part of
DePauw's diversity program.

Sincerely,

David Horowitz


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, MAY 10, 2004
CONTACT:
CARL HECK, (812) 208-4179, check@indgop.org

DEPAUW UNIVERSITY MULTICULTURAL DIRECTOR ATTACKS COLLEGE REPUBLICANS

INDIANAPOLIS-Jeanette Johnson-Licon, Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at DePauw University, publicly attacked the leadership of the College Republicans for inviting David Horowitz, a nationally known author and lifelong civil rights activist, to speak on campus. Mr. Horowitz has been a long-time defender of the rights of minorities and other groups under attack - including the rights of blacks, gays, women, Jews, Muslims, Christians and white males. Horowitz's speech had been scheduled for Friday, May 7, but was postponed due to travel difficulties.

In an email addressed to numerous campus organizations at DePauw University, including the Association of African American Students and the Committee for Latino Concerns, but excluding College Republicans, Johnson-Licon chastised the College Republicans for Horowitz's invitation. "I'm feeling anger and frustration that CR has chosen to end their programming year by writing a check to David Horowitz," she stated. "It's a waste of my precious time and energy to feel anything but irritation for hate-mongers like Horowitz. Stupidity bores me."

Johnson-Licon goes on to state that by inviting Horowitz, the College Republicans have jeopardized future cooperation from her office. "What I will do is remember this moment, especially the next time that [the College Republicans] expects me to be generous and accommodating."

"These appalling comments, made by an administrator whose focus should be on promoting a multitude of cultural and ideological perspectives on campus, illustrate the pervasive climate of hostility towards conservatives at DePauw University and demonstrate the urgent necessity for the school to adopt the Academic Bill of Rights to protect its students and faculty from further ideological discrimination," said Carl Heck, State Chairman of the Indiana Federation of College Republicans. "As the Director of Multicultural Affairs, Ms. Johnson-Licon should take an active role in increasing intellectual diversity on campus. Instead, she has made it clear that conservative views are not welcome."

"I find it quite disturbing that an administrator is allowed to be intolerant of different groups on campus simply because of their political beliefs and I fear for the future of our educations at DePauw," commented Jessica Beeson, the Student Body President of DePauw University, in response to Johnson-Lincon's statement.

According to DePauw University's website, www.depauw.edu, "The Office of Multicultural Affairs provides students with a sense of cultural identity and belonging through programming, services, and campus education and advocacy."

"With the comments Johnson-Licon has made as the Director of Multicultural Affairs, I do not feel that Ms. Johnson-Licon is adequately and effectively fulfilling the roles and duties laid out by the University," concluded Heck. "I respectfully request a public apology from Ms. Johnson-Licon addressed to the student body of DePauw University, the DePauw University College Republicans, and to David Horowitz. I would also ask that the university look into the bias presented by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and consider adopting the Academic Bill of Rights." The Academic Bill of Rights is available at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org.

The DePauw University College Republicans is a member of the Indiana Federation of College Republicans.