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Alumna says no to rescheduling of UAA 'Speaker Series' talk at Rutgers

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Lisa Daftari said Rutgers shared information regarding their correspondence without her being made aware of the decision.

Rutgers Undergraduate Academic Affairs (UAA) has offered Lisa Daftari, a foreign-affairs journalist who recently had a speaking event postponed by Rutgers following an online petition, multiple dates in November to come to campus and give her previously scheduled talk.

In an email to The Daily Targum, Rutgers Director of Public and Media Relations John Cramer provided a copy of an invitation sent earlier this afternoon from Vice Chancellor for UAA Ben Sifuentes-Jáuregui to Daftari, in which Sifuentes-Jáuregui apologized for any confusion surrounding the event’s postponement.

He also extended an invitation for her to appear on campus on one of the following dates: Wednesday Nov. 14, Monday Nov. 19, Monday Nov. 26 or Wednesday Nov. 28.

“Please know that Rutgers values the free and open exchange of all viewpoints and that you are welcome to speak here,” Sifuentes-Jáuregui said, according to the email. “I understand, in fact, that you may have been invited by student groups to speak at the University as well as the event that was scheduled for tomorrow night.”

The Targum reported that another student recently started an online petition to bring Daftari back to campus, which has more than 1,000 signatures.

Sifuentes-Jáuregui said he thinks respectful discussion will be generated through her comments and student follow-up questions.

“I am certain that in the course of your comments and follow-up questions from our students, your views will be fully articulated and will generate respectful and vigorous discussion both by those who agree and those who disagree with those views,” he said.

In a statement to the Targum, Daftari said Rutgers shared the information regarding their correspondence publicly without her knowledge. She shared her email in response to UAA:

"Dear Professor Sifuentes,

Thank you for your email. With all due respect, in all of our previous correspondence and communication, it was clear that the University unilaterally decided to cancel the event. To come back after the damage has been done to my reputation and suggest that this was some misunderstanding and to continue with the premise that the event was merely postponed, lacks the integrity and respect that I would have hoped for from my alma mater.

Just as the University was sensitive to the concerns of a group of students who slandered my good name based on falsified quotes, I would hope that the University would now demonstrate the same level of consideration as we move on.

I wish you and the Rutgers community much success in all your future endeavors."

At the end of last week, it was announced that Rutgers had indefinitely postponed Daftari's speech, which was originally scheduled for Oct. 16.  

In a tweet, Daftari said "postponement" was meant as another way to say cancellation.

“Let’s be clear- this was not a 'postponement'- that is public relations talk for a cowardly cancellation. (Rutgers) told me the event was canceled,” she said in the tweet.

Ryan Stiesi

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