Scripps Defends George Will Disinvitation

Scripps College President Lori Bettison-Varga defended the college’s decision to disinvite conservative columnist George Will from speaking at a conservative lectureship in a letter addressed to the Scripps Community Oct. 7.

“Sexual assault is not a conservative or liberal issue,” Bettison-Varga wrote in the letter. “And it is too important to be trivialized in a political debate or wrapped into a celebrity controversy. For that reason, after Mr. Will authored a column questioning the validity of a specific sexual assault case that reflects similar experiences reported by Scripps students, we decided not to finalize the speaker agreement.”

Bettison-Varga emphasized Scripps’ commitment to inviting conservative speakers to campus as a part of the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program, a guest lecture series 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.”

“Over the past eight years, the Malott Public Affairs Program has diversified the educational environment for our students by featuring conservative thought leaders in a widely publicized and well-attended event series,” Bettison-Varga wrote. “We do not shy away from bringing strong conservative viewpoints into our community.”

Will was initially slated to speak at this year’s program, which has hosted conservative columnists Charles Krauthammer and Peggy Noonan in previous years, but was uninvited because of a June 6 column that he wrote about sexual assault on college campuses.

The complete Bettison-Varga letter is included below.

To the Scripps Community:

There has been a good deal of controversy in the last 24 hours over the decision of Scripps College and the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program to not pay George Will to speak on campus. There are a number of important issues that are being conflated, and I wanted to take a moment to share some perspective.

The issue of sexual assault is complex, serious, and personal to Scripps students. The College has worked on a continuing basis to provide the resources and support to build students’ trust and create a safe and secure campus environment. Scripps College has embraced a “yes means yes” policy, and we have spent the past several years working with our partner institutions to build a shared understanding of consent throughout the Claremont University Consortium community. We continue to work on ways to advance a productive dialogue on the issue of consent that we hope will further the community’s awareness and support.

We invited George Will to speak as part of our Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program because he is a prominent conservative commentator, and we believed our community would benefit from the healthy intellectual debate that has been the hallmark of the program since 2006. Over the past eight years, the Malott Public Affairs Program has diversified the educational environment for our students by featuring conservative thought leaders in a widely publicized and well-attended event series. We do not shy away from bringing strong conservative viewpoints into our community.

Sexual assault is not a conservative or liberal issue. And it is too important to be trivialized in a political debate or wrapped into a celebrity controversy. For that reason, after Mr. Will authored a column questioning the validity of a specific sexual assault case that reflects similar experiences reported by Scripps students, we decided not to finalize the speaker agreement.

Scripps College is planning next year’s Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs event, which will celebrate the ten-year anniversary of this important program at Scripps College. We will continue to welcome thoughtful, respected speakers representing diverse political perspectives to campus, and we look forward to the stimulating intellectual discourse that will occur as a result.

Sincerely,

Lori Bettison-Varga
President

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

18 thoughts on “Scripps Defends George Will Disinvitation”

  1. Asking Will, who has a far more distinguished degree than Bettison-Varga, and a pretty brilliant 50 year career at the epicenter of American politics, to explain his thinking might have been a better tack were the object to offer a genuine diversity of opinion. Are the Scripps women really such hothouse flowers that they cannot confront a differing viewpoint on the pretty central issue of sexual assault, rape, college culture and the failure of every single American college and university to address the problem successfully over the past two decades? Is Will not allowed to have an opinion on the subject because he is male? He is one of the two leading conservative pundits in America. The women of Scripps have been deprived of a useful piece of education in the name of ridiculous political correctness.

  2. I’m a Scrippsie who tends to be more on the conservative side of things than most of the students here, and I fully support LBV’s decision. Anyone who trivializes sexual assault like that does not deserve to speak at any college, much less a woman’s college. Scripps can find much better conservative speakers who invoke good discussions to come here rather than those who make conservatives look like privileged, misogynistic jerks like George Will did.

    1. “Scripps can find much better conservative speakers who invoke good discussions to come here…”

      What do you mean by ‘better’ and why does Scripps get to decide who fits this subjective criteria?
      Furthermore, Will’s most prominent argument is that sexual assault needs to be taken seriously enough that due process is not foregone. Sexual assault is one of the WORST crimes against another human being and against humanity. This raises the question of why the precedent of innocent until proven guilty and reasonable doubt do not apply to sexual assault charges on campus. Is sexual assault on campus not important enough of a crime to treat like rape in the world beyond our campus? Do the victims of sexual assault on campus not deserve the same process as those who are victims of sexual assault elsewhere?

    2. It seems you are a scrippsie – which is to say idiot who is indoctrinated in how not to think at an over priced 3rd tier pc factory

    3. But, he did not trivialize it. You’re just picking up a word you saw. He questioned how colleges are handling the issue, and noted that law enforcement is equipped to handle it. His arguments were well-outlined and defended. It would be a worthy point of discussion for his visit. Instead, you trivialized the concept of allowing diversity of views.

      1. How is claiming that victimhood is coveted not trivializing it? Trust me, you won’t be able to find any woman, much less a Scrippsie who says they want to be sexually assaulted.

        1. Well, that’s called a non sequitur. His column stated that law enforcement should be the avenue for redress for a serious crime, not stumbling college administrations, and you extended that to somehow mean that he recommends sexual assault as something great. That’s not a serious comment to post.

  3. I am one of the four Ladies who visited your campus this morning to defend Free Speech at Scripps College today. I have great confidence in the students to hear ideas and issues and determine how they think about them. I take issue with the fact that the President of Scripps doesn’t have the same confidence. It would have been better to let Mr. Will speak and then, when it would be time for the students during the event; they could question/challenge him. Unfortunately the only thing learned from this, is its OK to shut down speech you disagree with. You may be offend by something someone says…you do not have the right to shut them up! Problems/disagreements need to be openly discussed so we have clarity on where we agree/disagree, then we can start to understand each other.

    1. Actually, they do have the right. Freedom of expression. The disinvitation was a clear way of expressing Scripps’ disgust with the message he was sending, an expression that almost all if not all of Scripps would support. And freedom of expression is protected by the First Amendment.

      1. Yes, you do have the Right of Free Speech…that was never in question. Let me give an example: I heard Ayaan Hirsi Ali on a news program and she was talking about her life as a Muslim women in Somalia, her flight from that life, and how she was making her way in the world today. I was very curious about her life and thought I would buy the book. Then in the interview she said she had left Islam and was now an atheist.

        If I bought into your way of thinking, I would have been offended she is an atheist (I am a Christian) and she has to be lying because we all know that Islam is a religion of peace. So I would NOT buy her book.

        Well, I did buy her book and I read her story and I now understand her rejection of Islam and God! If I had lived what she experienced; I would most likely feel the same. Recently a College rescinded her speaking engagement because someone didn’t like what she might say. Someone else thought it was important that students hear what she had to say!

        Yes, you had the right to rescind the invitation of Mr. George Will to speak at your college! You have the right to believe and think whatever you choose…you do not have the right because of your personal offense to silence someone else.

        Or as my 16 year old said, Just because your ****** at what I say, doesn’t mean you can shut me up!

  4. The Left is becoming more and more authoritarian in America. Its scary stuff when someone of George Will’s stature is “disinvited” (sic) because he wrote a column which the Leftists at the college disagree with. Having said that, I had never heard of Scripps before and likely never will hear of them again, so they can wallow in their self-righteous, self-important obscurity.

  5. Four of us took an hour to pass out flyers outside the school this morning over this unfortunate situation. I was encouraged as all were not indoctrinated and many expressed their support of our free speech rally. I think they might want to read their inscription “the paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently” I think they lost their way, One student declared our flags “ridiculous”. She had the brainwash, poor dear.

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