The president of Emory University will not bow to pressure from the campus Young Democrats who want a campus arts center renamed.
The Emory Wheel reports President Gregory Fenves “declined to take action” on the Young Democrats of Emory’s proposal regarding the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, stating the “generous benefactors” are “devoted” to the university.
The Young Democrats, supported by resolutions from the College Council and Student Government Association, want the center’s name changed because Mr. Schwartz sponsored an event featuring conservative commentator and author Heather Mac Donald over a year ago.
The Wheel notes Mac Donald “ignited campus-wide dissent” with claims about campus rape and minority students asserting victimhood without reason. Fenves said that while Mac Donald “angered and alienated many,” her appearance was “consistent with Emory policy and [its] commitment to the free expression of ideas.”
Young Democrats of Emory President Alex Chanen said his group would not drop the effort to rename the center, saying “We plan to continue to hold the Emory administration accountable to help create a more equitable community.”
President of Emory College Republicans Jasmine Jaffe […] said in a March 17 email to the Wheel that the group is “very pleased with President Fenves’ renewed commitment to Emory’s policy of open expression and freedom of association.”
Emory’s Open Expression Policy protects “expression that communicates a viewpoint, regardless of form” and includes “communicative activity, whether or not it occurs in the context of a Meeting or Event.” However, civility and mutual respect “do not limit the rights protected by the Policy.”
“We are deeply saddened that there is a sizable portion of students who do not understand the importance of open expression, and rather seek to silence and push out ideologically minority voices,” Jaffe wrote. “We hope that President Fenves and the administration will do more to emphasize to the student body why free speech, a foundational element of our democracy, is a crucial element of promoting tolerance, diversity, and intellectual debate.”
Indeed, a “safe space” was set up by various campus groups in response to Mac Donald’s January 2020 appearance, and a member of the student government actually tried to get the College Republicans investigated for “discrimination.”
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