In a joint letter on Friday, FIRE and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) asked Villanova University to explain how academic freedom and free speech are safe in the wake of Villanova’s decision to cancel a workshop scheduled by faculty and led by gay performance artist Tim Miller. While the workshop had been scheduled for months, it was only recently, when Villanova began to be criticized for allowing Miller to lead the workshop, that the university decided that it was unacceptable. This suggests that the decision was made out of political considerations rather than principle, which is unacceptable at a university that, like Villanova, promises academic freedom to students and faculty.
Our joint letter was reported in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, which quotes NCAC Director of Programs Svetlana Mintcheva:
Censoring something is not a way to get rid of a problem. They’re finding this out.
According to the Inquirer, a Villanova spokesman "said the university had just received the letter and, if appropriate, would respond to the organizations that sent it." In the meantime, you can read what others are saying about our letter on the Facebook group "Villanova’s Tim Miller Controversy — A Forum."
And tonight at 5:30 p.m., members of the Villanova community are gathering for a student-initiated event about the controversy, called "Igniting Change: Constructive Dialogue with the Villanova Community." From the Facebook discussion and the Inquirer article, it seems that Villanova’s president, the Rev. Peter H. Donohue, is expected to attend.
FIRE will let you know what happens next.