By Jesse Lewis
KEVIN B. KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Undeclared freshman James Welcome signs a petition at the College Republicans' tent on the UA Mall yesterday for equal money to be spent on both left- and right-wing speakers on campus.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 5, 2004
The University of Arizona College Republicans are petitioning due to Michael Moore's scheduled appearance Oct. 11, which they say is unbalanced because of a lack of a conservative speaker of the same prominence.
Despite the fact that Moore's appearance will be paid for solely by ticket sales and not ASUA funds, the petition asks ASUA to sponsor a conservative speaker of equal name recognition.
Since the group began petitioning Sept. 23, UACR has received more than 1,100 signatures, 300 of which were gathered on the first day from students and community members.
They plan to present the petition to UA President Peter Likins and ASUA President Alistair Chapman in hopes of getting ASUA to sponsor a high profile conservative speaker.
Moore's appearances at colleges across the nation have caused controversy, and California State University San Marcos and George Mason University in Virginia have already cancelled appearances by Moore.
UACR will also send the petition to conservative speakers the group would like to see on campus, such as talk show host Sean Hannity, conservative New York Times bestselling author Ann Coulter, and Ben Stein, actor, writer, finance expert and former speech writer for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
At the Faculty Senate meeting last night, administrators responded to the overwhelming concern about Moore's appearance.
Likins said he knows the appearance has caused concern on campus and said he has received several complaints via e-mail. But he said he trusts the students' judgment.
"I spent a lot of hours responding to e-mail this weekend," Likins said.
Likins said his response to the community has been that he respects and trusts the students. There was no distortion of values in bringing Moore to the UA, Likins said.
Jory Hancock, Faculty Senate chair, also responded to student concerns about Moore's appearance.
"I acknowledge ASUA's efforts to achieve some balance in speakers ... there will always be complaints," Hancock.
Chapman said ASUA has invited Colter, Hannity and Stein, but nothing has been confirmed.
"We, citizens of the Tucson community, disagree with ASUA (UA's studentgovernment) spending $27,500 to bring Michael Moore to campus while notspending nearly a dime on bringing comparable big-name conservative speakers.
ASUA represents all students, and therefore, should bring in major speakers that represent both sides of the issues," the petition states.
Danielle Roberts, president of the UA College Republicans, said the petition is meant to show students and the community that people on campus want to hear more than one side of the story.
"We want ASUA and the Tucson community to know that students want to hear both sides of the story," Roberts said.
UACR has received signatures from both Republicans and Democrats said Pete Seat, Arizona College Republicans state chairman.
"Ninety-nine percent of people signing are looking for a balance," Seat said. "Most people say they agree with Michael Moore but they want to see both sides."
At the Arizona Board of Regents meeting last week, some audience members expressed distaste with the upcoming appearance.
Deanna Smith, a four-year Tucson resident and daughter of Tucson millionaire Lester Smith, said her father, who made generous contributions to UA, would be disappointed with the decision.
"My father was a donor, and he'd be appalled at what the university is doing. I know there had to be some administrative cooperation here. Michael Moore is anti-American, anti-Semitic ... he is offending my Jewish Republican friends," Smith said.
She agreed with the petition's message, and said there needs to be balance.
"The point is this is very biased. The university is publicly funded: a state university must be unbiased," Smith said.
Roberts echoed the same sentiment, saying that equal funding for speakers is what the petition means, not that Moore shouldn't come at all.
"It looks like they are trying to make money off the event, not present issues ... (ASUA is) not willing to give equal pay or equal time to a conservative issue," Roberts said.
Roberts said Moore's visit does not necessarily uphold ASUA's vision for civic engagement because it is biased.
"ASUA's main drive with voter education is to educate students. If you only have one side being presented they are not being educated, they are being indoctrinated," Roberts said.
Gayatri Deodhar, a sophomore majoring in English at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, said the all-girl school's student government is working to bring Moore to campus, but there has not been much controversy over it.
"(Bryn Mawr College) is really primarily liberal and he is one of the biggest speakers we have ever had, and I haven't heard anything about it from anyone. There was only a small blurb in our paper about it," Deodhar said.
Chapman said ASUA is bringing conservative speakers to campus like David Hardy, author of "Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man," who will speak in the Grand Ballroom Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.
Bill O'Reilly was also invited, but ASUA could not afford the $100,000 he requested.
Chapman said he has been trying to work with the College Republicans to bring someone they want to hear.
"I am definitely sensitive to their concerns, and there is a greater sense of urgency for a higher profile speaker now that Michael Moore is coming," Chapman said.