Friday, June 10, 2011

U of R professors quit lecture series due to censorship

By Peter Mills
June 9, 2011

Prof. Emily Eaton
REGINA — Profs in the Park, a public lecture series which kicked off on Tuesday, came to a controversial end only one day after it started.

The Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID) partnered with the University of Regina’s Faculty of Arts to provide public lectures in Victoria Park every Tuesday until August 30.

However, on Wednesday, the professors were told by Richard Kleer, dean of arts, that Emily Eaton was told to either change her lecture topic scheduled for Tuesday or it would be cancelled.

Eaton’s presentation was titled, Solidarity with Palestine: The Case for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel.

Eaton was simply told to contact the RDBID.

“I returned the phone call and was made aware that the talk was under scrutiny and then the next day that it was pulled,” she wrote in an email to the Leader-Post. “I was told that the talk was being cancelled by the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District ... I’m not sure who it was that complained.”

The office of Judith Veresuk, executive director of RDBID, said they were not willing to comment on Thursday.

The professors involved in the series unanimously decided to change the venue but future plans are unknown.

Marc Spooner, an education professor, said Eaton’s lecture discusses a difficult topic but it is still extremely important.

“We can’t allow censorship to trump dialogue,” he said. “It’s our job to foster spaces where divergent views can be expressed in the hope of gaining understanding.”

Gail Chin, an art history professor, said “city property is public property” and that such censorship must not be tolerated.

“This is an infringement on basic freedom of speech,” said Chin. “Dr. Eaton has the right to talk.”

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