Due to an overwhelming response from groups across campus, the College Union Board (CUB) has decided to postpone presenting a bid to author Tucker Max to lecture in Kendall Hall on Jan. 20, according to CUB director Raquel Fleig.
Later this week students will have the opportunity to participate in a revised poll to either reinforce the $25,000 bid for Max’s appearance or select a different performer.
The new poll was prompted by criticism that the first poll wasn’t clear, Fleig said.
Last month, students were asked to select from various genres and examples of entertainment in an online poll.
According to Fleig, claims of confusion were made over whether students voted for the genre or the specific example supplied with each option, in this case, Tucker Max.
The writer of four-time New York Times best-seller “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell,” which was released as a feature film in 2009, is known for his controversial presence on the web and as a lecturer on campuses across the country. His comedic material draws from alcohol-induced sexual exploits and in his own words on his Web site’s homepage, his tendency “to act like a raging dickhead.”
Jackie Deitch-Stackhouse, coordinator of the Office of Ant-Violence Initiatives (OAVI), is one of the leading figures of dissent over Max’s proposed visit. According to Stackhouse, OAVI has centralized efforts against Max through petitions sent to various groups on campus. Stackhouse said she believes the second poll will yield different results.
“I really believe, in my heart of hearts that this campus doesn’t support the values that Tucker Max promotes,” she said.
“It has been my opinion, that once we’ve educated the campus community, that if given a second opportunity to vote, they will choose what they really want, and it’s been my hope that they will say anything other than Tucker Max.”
As a part of the College’s Green Dot Initiative, a campus-wide campaign to counter personal violence (red dots) with acts against violence (green dots)
Stackhouse identifies Max as a “red dot,” and therefore, a direct threat that undermines the messages espoused by OAVI, as well as other offices such as the Office of Differing Abilites and the Alcohol and Drug Education Program. The implications of Max’s visit go beyond differences in comedic taste, Stackhouse said.
“If students re-poll … and continue to say that they want him … after helping people understand the connection between his sexist, misogynist, pro-rape values and comedic works … then there’s a much bigger issue for me to deal with than CUB programming,” Stackhouse said.
In response to many students’ arguments that preventing Max from visiting represents a violation of free speech, Stackhouse held that the issue isn’t whether CUB has the right to bring Max to campus but whether it should.
“CUB is an entertainment body … they’re not supposed to have an ideology, not supposed to have an agenda. It’s supposed to be for entertainment purposes. So it’s different. Even putting Tucker Max on the survey, to me, is problematic. I don’t know that it should have ever gotten that far,” Stackhouse said.
Fleig said, “We found that students in the past have been apathetic towards campus programming … we saw the opportunity to use (Max) as a catalyst for discussion.”
Fleig said she personally isn’t a fan of Max’s brand of humor and said she recognizes the concerns of different groups regarding his jokes about sexual assault. However, she feels he has a right to speak on campus.
“I don’t think as adults we should be censored in what we are seeing or hearing … From CUB’s standpoint, we believe that there is an audience for him on campus,” she said.
Fleig said Max’s lecture will focus on his experience as a former lawyer turned writer, so it will be useful for students who are fearful about their careers after college.
According to the vice president of the Women’s Center Sharanya Mohanty, junior psychology major, however, it is nearly impossible for any writer, especially Max, to separate his experience as a writer from the content of his work.
“To bring a guy who is the antithesis of what we promote on campus just isn’t right … He essentially promotes a culture of rape,” Mohanty said.
W.I.L.L., OAVI, Office of Differing Abilities Services, International Socialist Organization, College Democrats, College Republicans, Alcohol and Drug Education Program have all stated opposistion to Max coming. OAVI also started circulating a petition and the organizations mentioned above helped.