A prominent conservative political pundit was uninvited from speaking at Scripps College, in a program designed to promote conservative views on campus, because of his conservative views.
Nationally syndicated columnist George Will was slated to speak at the ninth annual Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program, the mission of which is to bring speakers to campus whose political views differ from the majority of students at the all-women’s college, but had his invitation rescinded after he wrote a column about sexual assault on college campuses.
“It was in the works and then it wasn’t in the works,” Will said in an interview with the Independent. “They didn’t say that the column was the reason, but it was the reason.”
Will also told the Independent that Christopher DeMuth, former president of the American Enterprise Institute, one of the most influential conservative think tanks in the country, resigned from his position on the program’s speaker selection committee over the decision to revoke the invitation.
The Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program was established under the belief that “a range of opinions about the world – especially opinions with which we may not agree, or think we do not agree – leads to a better educational experience,” according to the Scripps College website.
It has not been announced who will be selected to replace Will at this year’s series. Previous speakers invited to campus by the program include conservative columnists Charles Krauthammer and Peggy Noonan.
News of the cancellation comes shortly after the release of a recurring study by Claremont McKenna College Professor Emeritus Ward Elliott that aims to measure political attitudes at the Claremont Colleges. In the most recent update of the report, Elliott could not find any Scripps faculty members who are registered Republicans.
“Among the 532 [Claremont Colleges] core faculty only 15 Republicans could be found in the registries,” Elliott said in an email to the Independent. “Pomona, Pitzer, and Scripps have a very few registered third-party core faculty, but no Republicans at all found.”
Libby Ramsey SC ‘17 said that the cancellation underscores the lack of political diversity at Scripps.
“There is minimal political diversity at Scripps,” Ramsey said in an email to the Independent. “Not only this, but the minority who have different viewpoints feel uncomfortable sharing their opinions, and there is a culture of exclusion and a lack of acceptance. If Scripps claims to want ‘to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently,’ as our founder explained, it should not keep contributing to a culture of exclusion and silence.”
Will’s June 6 column centered on the issue of sexual assault on college campuses, particularly regarding the federal government’s recent intervention into how colleges should respond to such incidents.
“[Colleges and universities] are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (‘micro-aggressions,’ often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate,” Will wrote in the column. “And academia’s progressivism has rendered it intellectually defenseless now that progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, has decided it is academia’s turn to be broken to government’s saddle.”
Four Democratic members of the U.S. Senate signed a June 12 letter denouncing Will’s column, writing that his “notion about a perceived privileged status of survivors of sexual assault on campuses runs completely counter to the experiences described to us.”
Will responded to the U.S. Senate in a June 13 letter, writing, “I think I take sexual assault much more seriously than you. Which is why I worry about definitions of that category of that crime that might, by their breadth, tend to trivialize it. And why I think sexual assault is a felony that should be dealt with by the criminal justice system, and not be adjudicated by improvised campus processes.”
A representative from Scripps could not be reached for comment before press time. The Independent will update this article as their comment becomes available.