Victory for Freedom of Expression at University of Arizona; Showing of ‘Not Evil, Just Wrong’ Back on Schedule

By on October 13, 2009

The University of Arizona has reversed course and permitted the College Republicans to screen the film Not Evil, Just Wrong as originally scheduled, just days after telling the group that its reservation was being cancelled due to a scheduling mistake. The "mix-up" was discovered only 11 days before the event, making it difficult to reschedule. After a joint investigation by FIRE and a UA College Republicans (UACR) leader showed that the scheduling conflict might not have been a mistake, the screening was placed back on the schedule for October 18.

According to UACR Director of Communications Katie Pavlich, on September 23, 2009, she requested use of the university’s Gallagher Theater for an October 18, 5:00 pm, showing of Not Evil, Just Wrong, a documentary about "the true cost of global warming hysteria." The date and time were important to the group because of the stated goal of the Not Evil producers to earn a "World Record for the largest ever simultaneous film premiere." The request was granted by Hollyanne Fricke, Manager of the Gallagher Theater and Graduate Assistant for Social Justice Programs for The Center for Student Involvement & Leadership (CSIL).

A Google cache of the Theater’s schedule as of September 17 shows that the time was wide open. A Google cache of the same schedule as of October 7, however, shows that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which was already being shown on both of the previous two nights, had now been scheduled for the 5:00 pm time slot on October 18.

According to Fricke in an e-mail to Pavlich on October 7,

I realized last night that there are actually a couple other events in the Theater on October 18. They weren’t on Event Planning’s calendar, so when I checked with them, Oct. 18 was seemingly completely open. However, there are actually two movies being shown that day for Family Weekend, one at 2PM and one at 5PM. What this means is that the Theater is actually reserved from 1PM – 8PM, approximately.

I apologize for the mix-up, and take full responsibility. Please let me know how you would like to proceed and what I can do to help fix everything. I will be in a conference for the next few days, so the best way to reach me is via email, and I will respond by the end of the day.

The strange thing about this note, other than its interesting timing, is that Family Weekend (a program of CSIL) is scheduled to end after a send-off brunch on October 18. Participants in Family Weekend apparently were never told that they should make plans to stay around for yet a third showing of the Transformers film the same weekend. 

Once Pavlich and I realized these strange circumstances, Pavlich pointed them out to Fricke in an e-mail near midnight on October 9. On the evening of October 10, Fricke replied by e-mail to Pavlich that the UA College Republicans could screen Not Evil, Just Wrong as originally scheduled:

Again, I would like to apologize to you and the College Republicans for my mistake in double-booking the theater on the date of your event. Since your group planned ahead and went through all the correct steps in planning your event, Gallagher Theater will be changing their schedule around such that your group is able to have the Theater at the originally scheduled time of October 18 from 4:00PM – 8:00PM.

Fricke did the right thing by reversing course. We hope that the UA College Republicans will face no new obstacles in holding their event next Sunday.

Schools: University of Arizona Cases: University of Arizona: Screening of Controversial Film Cancelled