The university setting is an ideal forum for viewpoints from all political, cultural and ideological arenas; colleges across the country have a storied history of rigorously defending the right to free speech.
Tonight, controversial political scientist Norman Finkelstein will be lecturing at an event co-sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, the Levantine Cultural Center and the Undergraduate Student Government.
On a college campus as diverse as USC’s, not everyone will share the same ideologies, and student groups often sponsor contentious speakers. In the last four years, students have attended or protested lectures by divisive figureheads such as Ann Coulter, David Lloyd and David Horowitz, prompting healthy discourse among the student body. Although tonight’s event has been the subject of much protest, the fact remains that Dr. Finkelstein has every right to voice his views on campus.
We must question, however, the use of student fees to pay for this event.
USG has a responsibility to aid all student organizations who properly process requests for funding. Without such support, the scope of activity for many such organizations would be narrowed significantly.
Every undergraduate at USC pays a mandatory programming fee in addition to their tuition, which is used to finance the budget for USG.
When USG co-sponsors a speaker on campus, it gives the event its seal of approval, whether intentionally or not. At the very least, USG has a responsibility to poll students and gauge the majority opinion on a controversial event to make sure it is best serving the interests of its constituents.
USG overstepped its bounds by co-sponsoring the Finkelstein event.
Student groups can and should continue to invite programming that showcases the unique diversity of the student body. But in the future, USG must take into account the interests of all of its constituents when determining the allocation of funding to student organizations.
The university should provide a forum for the discussion of controversial perspectives — not sponsor just one of them.
Correction: A previous version of this editorial incorrectly listed one of the co-sponsors of the event as “Students for Justice and Peace in Palestine.” The group’s name is “Students For Justice in Palestine.”