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Censorship in Regina?

Prof’s lecture on “The Case for Boycotts…” cancelled


 

By Cigdem Iltan

The University of Regina was buzzing this month with talk of academic muzzling off-campus. Emily Eaton, an assistant professor of geography, was a week away from presenting “Solidarity with Palestine: The Case for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel,” the second of 12 lunchtime talks scheduled over the summer in Regina’s Victoria Park, when she says the coordinator of the series told her the topic was under scrutiny and asked to know more about it. The lecture series, titled “Profs in the Park,” was to be produced in partnership with the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID). The next day, she says, the university told her the RDBID had cancelled her event. “This is a clear case of a city-level administration stepping in and saying what its citizens should and shouldn’t be able to hear, and therefore defining the terrain of public debate,” says Eaton. All the professors scheduled to present—on everything from “Gardening with Native Plants” to “Current Trends in Policing”—withdrew from the series. “The profs and the dean collectively decided we’d rather pull all the presentations than be subject to censorship,” says Eaton. (The lecture series has since taken on a new name, “Profs in the City,” and has been relocated to a private space: Neutral Ground Contemporary Art Forum. Eaton presented her lecture to a packed house on June 14.)

Judith Veresuk, executive director of the RDBID, says her organization isn’t to blame for pulling the plug on the original series. She claims that RDBID contacted the university to clarify the content of the talk after the city and her organization received complaints about its subject matter. And instead of providing more info, says Veresuk, the university pulled the lecture. “The next thing I know,” she says, “the university is crying censorship and cancelled the series.”


 

Censorship in Regina?

  1. Nice try RDBID. Asking what topics profs will be addressing and then telling them to change the topic or not give the talk *IS* censorship. No way to weasel out of taking responsibility, RDBID. We are more than “crying censorship”, we are calling it out and decrying it! Long live the commons and our free public spaces…

    • Yes, good point Marc, why at least can’t RDBID take responsibility for what they did? Which is try to control the agenda of what was going to be discussed. The question is why does a so-called economic development board not trust an esteemed academic, Emily Eaton, from an esteemed academic institution, the U of R, to give a talk on what is a very interesting topic to a good number of people within and without the academic community in Regina. On the contrary, they are willing to shut a whole series down because of one unnamed malcontent that has no idea what the talk is even about.

      Hardly a way to run a city or attract other academics, professionals, etc. from across the country that may be considering moving to this city but may now think twice because of kangaroo court acts of intolerance like this one. Small time is all I can say.

  2. The question of control over what can be said or who wants to gather at the cenotaph in Victoria Park should and would be less dictated by City Council, the city administration or the Regina Business Improvement District if there was a different leadership on Council. The Mayor and Council is too much a recipient of support from business and it they who are dictating the policy on the use of Victoria Park, not the citizens of Regina. Hopefully that will change in October 2012.

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