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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Op/Ed: Shame on you University of Michigan: The Author Alice Walker Incident

Reading and talking about "Why War is Nev...
Alice Walker , at a previous engagement, speaking on Why War is Never a Good Idea" and "There's a Flower at the End of My Nose Smelling Me" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A IU News & Talk Op/Ed
By Monica RW

Imagine receiving a invite for dinner to a neighbor's home. Just moving into the community the standard practice of welcoming new homeowners includes a meal offering for other residents can get to know the family on a personal basis. One week later after receiving the invite the offer is rescinded.

Clueless to why this situation occurred, further research reveal one of the participants scheduled at the dinner performed a Google search engine background search on you. 

Turns out months prior in a Facebook chat with an associate, comments about the on-going Israel-Palestine conflict where you expressed sympathy for residents of the Gaza Strip, led a dis-invite by the neighbors.

Meet Alice Walker Pulitzer Prize writer, political activist, author of 'The Color Purple' and numerous written works.  In this Op/Ed, Ms. Walker is the new homeowner. The University of Michigan - an elite American educational institution is the established community member. And a unknown donor to the college is the noisy neighbor.

As an political activist Walker's blog greets invitees with a beautiful picture of woman of wisdom, sitting on a yellow wood chair, dog to the left, a book in hand between a garden of colorful flowers and plants.

The website is appropriately named Alice Walker's Garden. Quickly, a viewers eyes move to the right of Walker's blog noticing articles titled Why Women Need Their Own MoneyTaking Care of Truth #3, The Amazing Speed of Spin and 'Thoughts On Our Sorrow: Trayvon Martin and Troy Davis, sits waiting for onlookers to read, digest and enjoy.

Walker was first invited University of Michigan as a Speaker for the institution Center for the Education of Women 50th Anniversary Celebration. Until a unknown donor disliked Walker's use of Free Speech to describe her feelings on Israel-Palestine conflict.

Assuming the unknown offended donor was of Jewish faith, Walker's previously express words would not do justice for her to speak at Center for the Education of Women (CEW) 50th Anniversary Celebration upcoming event. In what can be described as an unprecedented move and rather rude in nature we would say, the CEW Organization at University of Michigan dis-invited Alice Walker.

Local news resource Ann cited University of Michigan Faculty Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) members expressed concern damage Walker's rescinded invitation to speak would for the Educational Institution image in the academia community.

From Ann - August 20, 2013:

"SACUA expresses concern about the potential damage done to the reputation of the University of Michigan and its faculty by the appearance of insensitivity to principles of academic freedom stemming from the dis-invitation of Alice Walker as speaker for the CEW."
Others at the University, including Organizational Chairs of CEW's committee, seem to have adopted a practice of mum is the word. The members refused to respond to Ann query to explain Walker's rescinded invite status.

Instead CEW, predicting negative press would ascend upon the committee's doorsteps decided to quietly re-invited Walker to speak at the organizations' 50th anniversary celebration. Responding in part to CEW's second invitation, Walker expressed the following words on her blog according to Ann, August 19th.

"In times of war, Truth, it is said, is the first casualty. But that won’t remain a truism if we sincerely seek to know what the truth of a situation actually is. It has been interesting to see the various spins put on my book... as well as that surrounding the withdrawal of an invitation to speak at a school in Michigan. Imagine my surprise this morning when I opened my computer news to find I’ve been re-invited. Nobody alerted me to this. Right beside this news (to me) is a photo of myself in which I seem to be gloating over a triumph."
Ms. Walker, as a pending graduate student at an neighboring educational institution of higher learning, the University of Michigan should not be honored with your graceful presence and demeanor to speak at any event the college host. You have a right as we're sure your aware, of freedom of speech and expression in America, guaranteed within our U.S. Constitution.

Since it appears the CEW Organization primary concern is to please the Universities donors, let it be. It being CEW's second contact withdrawal of speaking at the 50th Anniversary Celebration event. We strongly believe host of other colleges and universities in Southeastern Michigan community would be honored to have you speak not only to faculty and donors but to community members and students like I.

Being a lifelong Michigan residents, we apologize for graceless treatment you experienced by CEW and extension University of Michigan for expressing your views, and know many Michiganders are extremely disappointed our community's premier academia institution in this state did not represent itself with you, as such.
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