Ann Coulter not welcome at U of O, president of student federation says
Group attempts to silence U.S. right-winger’s talk Ottawa Citizen March 20 2010
The president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa has barred a volunteer organizer from putting up posters advertising the upcoming appearance of American right-wing columnist and political commentator Ann Coulter.
She is to talk about political correctness, media bias and freedom of speech Tuesday night at Marion Hall as part of a Canadian lecture tour. Canadian conservative political activist Ezra Levant will also speak at the event and introduce Coulter.
“The federation does not support Ann Coulter speaking on our campus,” said student president Seamus Wolfe. “We’re trying to work with the administration to see if we can ask her to do her speaking event somewhere else.”
He said the federation controls which posters can be placed inside the University Centre building, while administration officials approve posters at other university buildings. A university spokesperson said the administration did not object to the poster.
Wolfe said the executive of the federation is in agreement that they don’t want to see Coulter speaking on campus.
“There is an interesting line between what is free speech and what is hate speech,” he said. “As difficult as it is to navigate that boundary, Ann Coulter has a history of hate speech and we wouldn’t invite somebody who spreads hate to come to our campus.”
Nicholas Fleet, a U of O economics student, said it’s an “affront” that the student federation has prevented him from putting up posters at the University Centre.
“People like Ann Coulter will come and go, but freedoms such as expression need to be tested and should be respected by student unions,” said Fleet, adding that he’s agreed not to distribute the posters.
But he noted that the posters for Coulter’s appearance were printed by Campus Print, the university printing department that is operated by the student federation.
“They took our money for printing the posters, but in the end they said we couldn’t put up the posters,” said Fleet.
Coulter’s visit is sponsored by the International Free Press Society-Canada and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.
Coulter could not be reached for comment.