Rutgers Undergraduate Academic Affairs supports Speaker Series event, responds to student petition

In a statement made on its Twitter account, Rutgers Undergraduate Academic Affairs stood by its decision to bring Lisa Daftari, a Rutgers alumna and journalist, to speak on campus as part of its Speaker Series program.
Photo by WikimediaIn a statement made on its Twitter account, Rutgers Undergraduate Academic Affairs stood by its decision to bring Lisa Daftari, a Rutgers alumna and journalist, to speak on campus as part of its Speaker Series program.

Rutgers Undergraduate Academic Affairs (UAA) has responded to a student-run petition to prevent investigative journalist and Fox News on-air political analyst Lisa Daftari from speaking on campus, according to its Twitter.  

The event, “Radicalism on College Campuses," will be held Oct. 16 from 7 to 8 p.m. at Trayes Hall in the Douglass Student Center. 

The petition, started by Adeel Ahmed, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and co-president of RU Progressive, accumulated more than 1,000 signatures, according to The Daily Targum.

UAA said the goal of its Speakers’ Series is to invite speakers on campus that will spark a dialogue about what students are learning in the classroom, the current cultural and political climate and encourage civic engagement, according to a Twitter post.  

“We invite a variety of speakers to campus with various backgrounds and professional expertise,” UAA stated. “Our events are structured to allow all participants to engage in conversation, voice their points of view and generate a public debate about important issues.”

UAA said that Daftari is using the word radicalism as it applies to polarizing or extreme views. She will discuss the current cultural climate as it applies to extremes and how to navigate these extremes to engage in a meaningful dialogue that leads to a positive path forward.

“Ms. Daftari has provided us with a few points about her upcoming talk, which she has described as ‘focusing on free speech’ and facilitating a conversation around the question ‘how can we use our college campuses as a place for learning, thinking and leadership rather than violence, hatred and radicalism,’" according to the tweet.  

She will speak for approximately 30 minutes with the remaining portion for a Q&A session. 

Vice Chancellor Ben Sifuentes-Jauregui said the event is doing what he initially hoped it would do, which is to engage in tough conversations. He said he would never want any student to feel marginalized, and is doing his best to create an environment that allows for these types of discussions, which promote understanding and bridge the gap between opposing views, according to the tweet. 

“If these issues are not brought to the forefront and given a chance to be debated, then they may continue to stay buried,” Sifuentes-Jauregui said. “Bringing a professional to campus who can help us speak interest on the topic and call attention to a particular issue is important.”