Letter to the Editor – Feb. 23, 2018

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The following letter to the editor was received on Feb. 23, 2018 and published on Feb. 27, 2018. 
Dear Editors:
We are faculty and staff of the University of Central Oklahoma who wish to express our disappointment at the decision by UCO’s administration to invite Ken Ham to speak on our campus.
First, and just to clear things up, we believe that Ham has the right to believe whatever he wants, and to express these beliefs. But neither of these rights confers the additional right to payment for expressing one’s convictions, or to the provision of an arena within which to express them. We believe the University resources that will be allocated to this event would be better used in other ways to advance our institution’s educational goals.
Although student funds will not be used to pay Mr. Ham’s speaker fee, the administration’s invitation cannot but be seen as an attempt to pre-empt and publicly rebuke the decision made by the elected representatives of the student body to rescind Mr. Ham’s invitation to speak here. This seems to us entirely to discount the opinions and preferences of our students. The further decision to schedule a “Presentation on the Constitutional Provisions of the First Amendment” alongside of Mr. Ham’s talk strikes us as an inadequate and irrelevant response to the issues at hand.
Mr. Ham’s anti-evolution, anti-gay, anti-feminist opinions are widely available to all with access to the internet. Universities are under no academic or First Amendment-based obligation to give equal time to scientifically discredited views. One purpose of a public university (which must remain neutral between religions) is to teach the best that science has to offer. There also seem to us to be significant reasons not to provide a platform at UCO for someone who has such an extensive history of advocating intolerance and open hostility toward communities that make up a substantial part of our student population. We find Mr. Ham’s apparently baseless willingness to profess personal expertise about topics in Biology, History, Women’s studies, and other disciplines in which UCO employs a complement of highly-trained faculty deeply disturbing.
Public universities are able to function in a free society only as long as those whom they employ as experts, and the students who are elected to represent their peers’ best interests, are able to develop and adhere to meaningful standards when deciding what should and should not happen in the classrooms, lecture halls, and open spaces of a campus. We the undersigned wish to express our sincere hope that the UCO administration’s decision to act openly against these standards does not signal an emerging trend.
Mr. William Andrews
Web Developer, College of Liberal Arts
Ms. Carol Barry
Librarian (retired), Max Chambers Library
Dr. Laura Bolf-Beliveau
Professor and Assistant Chair, English Department 
Dr. Rick Chew
Professor, Humanities and Philosophy
Dr. Jamie Childs
Adjunct Instructor, Humanities and Philosophy
Dr. Eva Dadlez
Professor, Humanities and Philosophy
Dr. Marc Goulding
Assistant Professor, Department of History and Geography
Dr. Katrina Lacher
Associate Professor and Assistant Chair, History and Geography Department
Dr. Caleb W. Lack
Associate Professor, Psychology 
Dr. Patricia Loughlin
Professor and Chair, Department of History and Geography
Dr. James Mock
Professor, Humanities and Philosophy
Dr. Maria-Teresa Moinette
Associate Professor, Modern Languages
Dr. Margaret Musgrove
Professor, Department of Humanities and Philosophy
Dr. Jeff Plaks
Professor Emeritus, History and Geography
Dr. Alyssa L. Provencio
Assistant Professor, Public Administration
Dr. Youngtae Shin
Professor, Political Science
Dr. Mark Silcox
Professor, Department of Humanities and Philosophy
Ms. Heidi Vaughn
Director, UCO Laboratory of History Museum

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