If you went to see Michael Moore on October 26, you know that he can be a very controversial man. It turns out the he may have been a little too spicy for Carnegie Mellon's palate. Moore's appearance sparked an outcry within the campus community, especially among conservatives.
In response to this outcry, Student Senate organized a forum to discuss political speakers on campus. The October 27 forum was held in Danforth Lounge and moderated by Student Body President Erik Michaels-Ober. It was attended by about 30 people, though most were either affiliated with the Activities Board (AB), or student government. Among those in attendance were AB chair Andrew Moore, AB Lectures chair Andy Jih, and Nick Scocozzo, Student Senate chair.
Since the forum was held the day after Moore's lecture, tensions and emotions were running high. The forum started out with an explanation by Scocozzo of how funds are distributed by Student Senate to other organizations through the Joint Funding Committee (JFC) process and the role of special allocations. It was explained that specific political student groups, such as the College Republicans and the College Democrats, may not be awarded any money by the JFC. Special allocations do not have the same restrictions, but Student Senate must approve them with a three-fourths vote.
During the forum, a key point came out: the University itself hosts a lot of lectures, but most speakers are not internally chosen. Instead, potential speakers are proposed to AB Lectures through other student organizations and students.
Student Senator Laura Drogowski asked simply, "Who brought Michael Moore?"
Jih responded that is was an internal decision, but Matt Toupes, former AB Lectures chair, confirmed that the student body has long expressed interest in hosting the political filmmaker.
Then came the question that seemed to be on a lot of people's minds: why doesn't AB host more conservative speakers? The general response from AB members was that AB is always looking for suggestions for speakers, and more people need to be involved with AB Lectures — as well as AB as a whole — if they want to see a broader range of speakers on campus. Many at the forum saw this response as AB's way of shifting responsibly to the student body as a whole. These students felt that AB should publicize themselves more and approach student groups about speaker selection.
In the end, the forum began to lose form with people blaming AB Lectures for not doing its job correctly and AB Lectures saying they are undermanned and are doing the best they can do. AB said that it isn't a political organization, and that most speakers on campus are liberal because these are the ones that other groups and students propose to AB.
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