As David Horowitz quipped Thursday evening, when finally making his scheduled appearance at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), "This is a university campus, I’m 72 years old, and I’m some big threat?" The Associated Students Finance Board (ASFB) sure seemed to think so, according to the minutes of its May 4 meeting. As Adam thoroughly laid out on Thursday, it was at this meeting where the decision was made to deny a significant portion of the requested funding for the event, hosted by the UCSB College Republicans, on the basis of Horowitz’s conservative viewpoint.
And what happened, when all was finally said and done, and Horowitz made his scheduled appearance? Nothing!
Well, no, not nothing. What happened was precisely what is supposed to happen in these situations. Some went to the event with an open mind, some went to try to give voice to particular disagreements they have with Horowitz’s views, and some went in the hopes of privately confirming or debunking personal misgivings. Speech was met with more speech and, in the case of the coalition of student groups who hosted an alternate event, different speech.
What didn’t happen is just as important. No one rioted, there were no concerted efforts to shut down the event, Horowitz was able to give his lecture as planned, and there most certainly was not any imminent threat of lawlessness by virtue of Horowitz’s being there. As UCSB College Republicans President Steven Begakis told the Daily Nexus:
"The big significance is that people were very respectful and they were quiet during the speech; they asked good, thoughtful questions … It was a marked difference from the controversy going up to the event. We’re really happy as a club that the students would want to engage in dialogue that way."
We’re happy to see that the event went off peacefully. We’re still left with the issue, however, of the UCSB student government’s duplicity in denying much of the College Republicans’ requested funding and then apparently misrepresenting themselves to the UCSB administration on why they did so.
The relative non-event that Horowitz’s speech ended up being (and I mean that in the best of ways) serves to highlight how out of touch the ASFB was on this issue, and how much they underestimate the UCSB student body’s ability to peacefully disagree on a subject. Hopefully the ASFB can see this issue with 20/20 hindsight now and acknowledge its error. If they don’t, though, it’s up to UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang to step in and make sure they do.