Speaking While Others are Shouting
The Need for Student Input in On-Campus Speaker Selection
Christina Charie ’25
Providence College professors consistently encourage students to attend the Humanities Forum for academic enrichment and extra credit. On the College’s website, it says “all are welcome” to the Humanities Forum. Therefore, topics discussed should reflect views of the entire campus community as a whole. To accomplish this goal, a student committee should form to assist the Humanities Forum in the speaker selection process. The background of professionals presenting on campus in recent months further demonstrates the need for student input.
Speakers invited by the Humanities Forum have publicly expressed their misogynic views online, even though the College is currently promoting its Fifty Years of Women campaign.
Recently, students received several emails about Peter Leithart’s talk entitled “The Dawn of the Biosecurity State.” Leithart’s topic is a genuinely engaging and important discussion as technology usage continues to rise. The ethical debate is fascinating, but Leithart’s other personal convictions might decrease student willingness to attend. After a quick search to discover more about his research and interests, an article and tweet by Leithart stated that “[he agrees] with Christians who today advocate for patriarchy.” With fifty-five percent of the student body identifying as female, Leithart’s statements have the power to create significant unease amongst the College population. A student committee can address the emotional impact statements of this nature has on the overall morale on campus.
Leithart also describes the rejection of “heteronormativity and sexual difference” as “a war against God” on his Twitter account. There are many academics who research biosecurity across the nation. The Humanities Program did not have to select a figure who demeans members of the student body who identify with the LGBTQ+ community. With students struggling to find their place in the Friar Family, inviting such rhetoric to campus leaves certain students excluded. Students should not fear attending supplementary lectures because of bias and discrimination.