LETTERS

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April 27, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Don’t bring bigotry to GSB

Recently, more than 750 members of the University community signed a petition calling upon the University of Chicago and the Graduate School of Business (GSB) to cancel the scheduled keynote address by General Peter Pace on May 18.

The overwhelming response to this petition drive demonstrates the profound shock and outrage of many members of the University’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community and its allies concerning the GSB’s plan to go ahead with Pace’s scheduled address under its auspices. This petition’s signers to date, nearly all members of the University of Chicago community, include GSB students, staff, faculty, and at least 20 GSB alumni. This petition represents the first phase of a student-led campaign to un-invite Pace. As you may know, the University of Chicago student organization Queers & Associates is planning a demonstration in front of the Hyatt on May 18, as are several citywide community groups.

It seems unlikely that the GSB Deans’ recent statement, posted yesterday on the GSB website, will diminish the community’s outrage over Pace’s talk. The letter makes no mention, for example, of any plans for programming, in a forum comparable to that being afforded to Pace, that would address the status of GLBT people in management or business, or any other step that might ameliorate the effects of Pace’s talk on the climate for GLBT community members, both in and out of the closet. In addition, the GSB has not responded to requests to make public several facts about the Management Conference, including the dollar amount of any compensation or other consideration being furnished to Pace.

The Deans’ assertion that the idea of retracting Pace’s invitation to speak “goes against principles of free speech, which we value greatly,” elides the distinction between speech, on the one hand, and the extension of a platform for speech, on the other. As far as I am aware, nobody has proposed to interfere with Pace’s freedom of speech. The insult to gays and lesbians conveyed by Pace’s address, moreover, is compounded by the fact that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, in the opinion of Janet Halley of Harvard Law School and other distinguished scholars, directly interferes with the free speech rights of Americans in uniform.

Timothy Stewart-Winter

Graduate Student

Department of History

Debate Pace; don’t silence him

I recently received news of a petition aiming to rescind General Peter Pace’s invitation to speak at the Graduate School of Business (GSB). The argument is that allowing him to speak at all, such as at the GSB’s management conference, “sends a message that is incompatible with the University’s core values, longstanding nondiscrimination policies, and ongoing efforts to create a climate welcoming of diversity.”

The University’s core values also include freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Moreover, the University has made clear that it does not take stands on the political issues of the day (its interpretation of this policy is another matter). For these reasons, one should not sign the petition.

That said, a statement making the case for denouncing Pace’s statements or actions, provided by those who think so, would be more in line with the University’s core values.

Adam Kissel

Graduate Student

Committee on Social Thought