In connection with my previous post regarding the Standing Rock is Everywhere event at UC Irvine on April 18, I have sent the below letter to the university and elected leaders expressing my concern.
April 26, 2017
Dear Dr Parham et al
My name is Gary Fouse, and I am a former part-time teacher in the UC Irvine Extension (1998-2016). Last week, I attended an event sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs “New Narratives” program and the Cross Cultural Center. It was entitled “Standing Rock Is Everywhere” and consisted of several panelists, who spoke not only about the Standing Rock pipeline issue but many other issues as well. Frankly, I was appalled at the negative perspectives given to UCI students by these speakers as it pertains to our country and our society (as well as Canada). Given the fact that the event was sponsored by the university, I wonder whether UCI was putting its official imprimatur on the views expressed.
I fully understand the dark chapters in our nation’s history and am old enough to remember some of them. I also understand the first amendment right of those speakers to express their opinions. But I do not share the negative opinions expressed toward our country as it is today or some of our leaders who were mentioned. For example, I do not believe Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a racist as was implied by one of the speakers.
I also found it offensive that a panelist (Janaya Khan) who has just moved to the US from Canada would open her remarks by saying that “she had picked the wrong time to move south of the border” then go on to trash this country. I also found the expression she used, “Christian patriarchy” equally offensive. I could go on, but you can read my reactions in full at the below link.
My real purpose in writing, however, is to inquire whether the “New Narratives” program has in the past or is willing in the future to sponsor a speaker or speakers with a more positive perspective on America as well as provide opposing viewpoints on the North Dakota pipeline and other issues brought up by your panel covered in the above event. I should add that I posed this question to Dr Abby Reyes before I left the event. While I don’t feel I got a particularly clear answer, she informed me that New Narratives was set up after the unfortunate “black face” incident on campus a couple of years back and was designed to give a voice to “marginalized students”. She also told me that suggested speakers are considered by a New Narratives panel and referred me to the vice chancellor’s office for further information.
Therefore, in the interest of providing UCI students and the community with other perspectives on these issues, I would like to respectfully propose a couple of speakers for your consideration (specifically for the New Narratives). First of all, I would like to propose Los Angeles-based talk show host Larry Elder, an African-American conservative. Secondly, I would like to propose Dr Thomas Sowell, who I believe recently retired from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is also a well-known African-American conservative. I can think of several other worthy speakers, but I will leave it with these two at this time.
In my view, university students deserve to be exposed to all sides of issues not just some. I don’t deny the rights of the above speakers to have their say, but I seriously question whether universities today are committed to giving a fair hearing to other voices. I eagerly await your response to my suggestions.
Dr. Howard Gillman, Chancellor
Dr. Douglas Haynes, Director, Cross Cultural Center
Dr. Abby Reyes
US Rep. Mimi Walters
State Senator John Moorlach
State Assembly Rep. Steven Choi
I will keep you advised of any responses I get (or don't get).