This morning at a New School appearance by the former Governor of Pennsylvania and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, a small group disrupted and, indeed, closed down Mr. Ridge’s ability to engage in a dialogue with our students. In view of these events the Provost and Deans Council feel it necessary to strongly object to this form of protest. Governor Ridge’s appearance, sponsored by Milano and The Center for New York City Affairs, was explicitly designed to promote free expression and debate, and the opportunity to air any viewpoints that any student desired was amply available – in fact, was encouraged by President Kerrey as the moderator of the event. As academic leaders, we condemn any activity that inhibits the free exchange of ideas. The New School is an institution founded in an act of dissent and the commitment to defending activism and free speech must be upheld by this entire community.
In the coming weeks, we will be convening a series of student and faculty discussions about the nature of effective activism and the role of civic discourse. We will be inviting the Advisory Committee on Speech Activities and Expression and the entire New School community to join us in this dialogue.