Wyoming Needs No Speaker Policy

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The University of Wyoming will apparently continue to schedule, pay, and cancel campus speakers on a totally ad hoc basis because, you know, it’s worked so well in the past.

After the controversial visits of Dick Cheney and William Ayers (one would think they’d cancel each other out) to campus earlier this year, several school trustees talked about creating a real policy on campus speakers. But President Tom Buchanan has decided it isn’t necessary.

According to an article by Jeremy Pelzer in the Star-Tribune:

University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan announced Thursday that the university will not enact a guest speaker policy in the wake of two controversial campus visits.

Buchanan said Thursday that… he believed there was “a better than even” chance of violence breaking out if Ayers came to UW. He dismissed the idea that threats by wealthy donors to withhold millions in promised donations played any role in his decision. “For me—perhaps not for you, but for me—it was a safety issue,” Buchanan said. “I did what I thought was right, knowing that a judge and many others, on and off campus, might disagree.”

As far as Buchanan is concerned, there’s no need for a policy because he didn’t prevent Ayers from coming to campus because he was politically controversial, Buchanan did it because he was worried about campus safety. “Academic freedom is not an endangered principle at the University of Wyoming,” said Buchanan.

This ignores the fact that Buchanan found a “safety concern” precisely because William Ayers was politically controversial.
Buchanan may have done “what he thought was right,” but he was wrong. There was no threat of violence.

On April 27 Chief Wyoming US District Judge William Downes ordered Buchanan to allow Ayers to speak on campus. Ayers did. There were no safety problems. The Laramie police provided light security at the event. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer