College defends decision to host Venezuelan officials

Will Gu
The Claremont Independent

  • Scripps College is standing by its decision to host two Venezuelan diplomats for a speech about the communist country's "grassroots initiatives."
  • Scripps said faculty members often invite speakers to "explore traditional and non-traditional perspectives on current and historical events," citing a conservative speaker series that has not held an event since November 2016.
  • In a statement obtained by The Claremont Independent, Scripps College’s administration defended inviting two Venezuelan diplomats last week to speak about their totalitarian government’s  “grassroots initiatives.” 

    This semester will be the second in a row that Scripps has invited Venezuelan officials to whitewash the country’s economic and human rights woes, with pro-Venezuelan regime speakers and a Venezuelan consul-general speaking last semester as well.

    "The administration stands behind faculty members’ ability to...engage in the critical analysis of ideas and narratives that these speakers provide."   

    Despite the Independent pointing out in an editorial that Scripps refused to allow this publication to invite conservative speaker Andrew Klavan, Scripps has maintained that it invites speakers in an effort to “create an opportunity for dialogue.”

    In an email statement, Carolyn Robles, the college’s interim executive director of marketing and communications, told the Independent that “Scripps College faculty often invites speakers to campus to augment course readings, create an opportunity for dialogue, and explore traditional and non-traditional perspectives on current and historical events.”

    “The administration stands behind faculty members’ ability to sponsor these events as an expression of academic freedom and to encourage students to engage in the critical analysis of ideas and narratives that these speakers provide,” Robles continued. In events both this semester and last, exclusively pro-regime speakers have been invited to engage the students.

    Robles pointed out that the college has brought conservative speakers to campus before through its Malott Public Affairs Program—a conservative speakers series—however, the program has not invited a speaker since November of 2016, nearly two years ago.

    “The College offers additional opportunities to bring coursework to life and to explore complex social, political, and economic issues through programs like the conservative speaker series Malott Public Affairs, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in November 2016 with political commentator Norm Ornstein.”

    The statement did not answer the Independent’s inquiry about whether or not Scripps intended to disinvite the Venezuelan diplomats, given widespread criticism by students and the general public. Four years ago, a similarly negative public sentiment led to the disinvitation of conservative columnist George Will.

    The full statement from Scripps College reads below:

    “Scripps College faculty often invites speakers to campus to augment course readings, create an opportunity for dialogue, and explore traditional and non-traditional perspectives on current and historical events. The administration stands behind faculty members’ ability to sponsor these events as an expression of academic freedom and to encourage students to engage in the critical analysis of ideas and narratives that these speakers provide.

    The College offers additional opportunities to bring coursework to life and to explore complex social, political, and economic issues through programs like the conservative speaker series Malott Public Affairs, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in November 2016 with political commentator Norm Ornstein.”

    This article was originally published in The Claremont Independent, a conservative student newspaper affiliated with the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished here with permission.

    Follow The Claremont Independent on Twitter: @CMontInd





    Will Gu

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent is an independent journal of campus affairs and political thought serving the colleges of the Claremont Consortium. The magazine receives no funding from any of the colleges and is distributed free of charge on campus. All costs of production are covered by the generous support of private foundations and individuals. The Claremont Independent is dedicated to using journalism and reasoned discourse to advance its ongoing mission of Upholding Truth and Excellence at the Claremont Colleges.

    The Claremont Independent is affiliated with Campus Reform through the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished on Campus Reform with permission from the paper. 

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