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October 18, 2008

UNL "Ayers" in Judgment, but Ultimately Rescinds Invitation [Vinnie, on behalf of Merri]

This is a post my wife Merri did at The Jawa Report.

Just to make it clear, I did not write the post. How can you tell? It's a damn good post

Why copy it and not just link it? Well, linking it is far to nepotistic, even for me. And, over there, I can't turn a troll's comments into "I suck cock." But I can over here. Enjoy!

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) invited "unrepentant terrorist" William Ayers back in February to speak at the University on November 15 as the keynote speaker at an event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the UNL teachers college.
Officials had said Ayers was invited to come Nov. 15 because of his expertise in research related to small schools and urban education.

Ayers is currently at the University of Illinois Chicago and is an education professor.

Tonight, UNL announced that it has rescinded its offer for Ayers to speak due to "safety concerns."

The announcement comes after Gov. Dave Heineman and others asked the university to rescind its invitation.

"This has become an embarrassment, not only to the university, but the state of Nebraska," Heineman said. "I've heard from parents who want to pull children out of the university, contributors who no longer want to give to the university. It's not worth it, considering who this individual is."

The University, in particular Board of Regents Chairman Chuck Hassebrook insists that it had nothing to do with the pressure from the Governor or other leaders and that those calls to cancel were "crass opportunism."

The chairman of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents says calls from the governor and other politicians had nothing to do with the cancellation of a visit from William Ayers.

Chuck Hassebrook says those calls were crass opportunism.

He says the decision fell to the college that invited Ayers to speak months before he became a central figure in the presidential campaign.

He also said this, though:

But nonetheless, he is relieved. He called Ayers an "unrepentant terrorist" and said he shouldn't be given a keynote address.

Earl Scudder, a Board of Regents candidate, called the invitation "a rare example of poor judgment."

"if they properly investigated that background when he was invited in February," said Scudder. "I would hope he would not have been invited to address the University students."

But Scudder stopped short of demanding the University rescind the invitation.

"I don't think it's appropriate for any of us as University supporters or candidates for the board of regents to be trying to pressure people to avoid unpopular figures."

While I passionately disagree with Scudder's decision not to demand the invitation be rescinded, I do agree with his concern about the University looking at Ayers background. A simple Google search would have given any half-brained twit enough material to say "hell no, he ain't coming HERE." Either way, though, it was egregiously reckless. If they didn't do their homework, they have no idea who they are inviting to come speak at their University and if they DID do their homework, it is a horrific lapse in judgment.

I personally call bullshit. I believe the pressures of many helped deliver the message that WE DON'T WANT BILL AYERS IN NEBRASKA!! The fallout had the University carried through with their plans would have been significant.

Update: Egregiously reckless, indeed.

Here is background on the decision-making process used to select and invite and reaffirm Ayers' invitation to speak:
"We do not condone his 1960s, 1970s actions in any way, shape or form ... but we are interested in the 40 years since then, when he has developed skills in topics that are of interest to our students and faculty," said Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences.

"We have made clear to him that what we are interested in is his research, not his political past."

She said Ayers is an expert in two areas that are of interest to the university’s teaching students: teaching methods that help assure students of all socio-economic backgrounds receive quality education; and research designed to increase teachers’ understanding of how people think and learn.

Kostelnik said Ayers was invited before he emerged as a controversial figure in the presidential campaign but that faculty members who decided to invite him, including herself, had a superficial knowledge of his past.

During a faculty discussion of whether he should be invited, his violent past "never came up," Kostelnik said.

When his invitation was announced at a faculty meeting in August, a faculty member asked if the group knew who Ayers is. Kostelnik said more research was done on his radical activities, and the group that decided to invite him stuck with its initial decision.

"The group was very clear to me they were purely interested in his research perspectives," she said.

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posted by xgenghisx at 07:46 PM

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