To the Editor:

The piece by Mariel Manzone and Jay Ennis on Lecture Fund offerings (“The Lecture Fund Fails to Bring Conservatives to Campus,” THE HOYA, April 29, 2005, A3) skews the true operations of the Lecture Fund and its members’ thoughtful consideration of potential speakers.

While the Lecture Fund encountered the option of hosting Ann Coulter, there were several factors that Manzone and Ennis failed to include in their article. First, there were no appropriate venues on the days on which Coulter was able to speak at Georgetown. The College Republicans’ leadership suggested the use of McDonough Gymnasium, but the space requires several clearances before receiving permission to use it as well as at least 30 hours of setup and breakdown. Certainly, this would have disrupted the regularly scheduled use of the gymnasium by varsity sports teams.

Second, higher profile speakers require collaboration with the university’s Office of Communications. Once the possibility of an Ann Coulter lecture came to my attention, I contacted the Office of Communications and was informed that because of other scheduled programs, we would not have any of the usual logistical support for higher-profile events.

Finally, even if the Lecture Fund was able to persevere through the factors already mentioned, we would have had to pay over $12,000 for venue costs, security, an honorarium and other incidental costs. After the fall semester, the average event cost the Lecture Fund $729. Therefore, a jump from this figure to $12,000 is not one that the Lecture Fund could justify. As for the Chris Matthews lecture on April 26, the Lecture Fund was able to negotiate an honorarium that brought the total costs of the event to less than half that of a lecture with Ann Coulter.

As for the possible controversy mentioned by Manzone and Ennis, two words capture the Lecture Fund’s own viewpoint on this issue: Bring it. In the past, the Lecture Fund has had to defend its actions in The Washington Times and on “The O’Reilly Factor,” and fear of controversy was not at all a determinant in our decision not to host Coulter. Furthermore, there is a documented vote for every single member who voted on Blackboard, and there is absolutely no mention of concern over controversy. Those interested are invited to ask the Lecture Fund for this documentation.

Over the past year, the Lecture Fund has planned, coordinated and ushered for approximately 45 events on a $35,000 annual budget. Although this amount is larger than those of other SAC groups, it is substantially lower than the budgets of speaker organizations at other institutions, such as Stanford University ($100,000+) and American University ($250,000+) who only sponsor three to five high-profile speakers a year.

Furthermore, the Lecture Fund has worked to increase the diversity of our offerings this year, from conservatives like David Horowitz – brought by both the College Republicans and the Lecture Fund – to former Black Panther Willie Ricks. In addition, the Student Activities Commission has increased the Lecture Fund’s responsibility by funding other student groups, who seek to bring their own speakers to campus.

Subsequently, the Lecture Fund has assisted other SAC organizations with hosting speakers who have addressed topics from eating disorders to independent film. This capacity is one that the Lecture Fund welcomes, and we hope to continue our efforts with other organizations in promoting debate and dialogue.

Thus, nothing should stop individual students or SAC groups from taking the elevator to our third floor office in the Leavey Center if they have earnest cravings to invite a speaker to Georgetown. In fact, a number of students and groups have done so already, and the Lecture Fund has accommodated their requests.

Thanks to our recent constitutional amendment, all Georgetown students now can be part of the Lecture Fund’s general membership, attend meetings and voice their views. We encourage Ennis and Manzone, as well as any student interested in the Lecture Fund, to attend our general board meetings next year. Students who want to be more intimately involved in the planning of events, and are willing to commit their time and energy to the Lecture Fund, should apply for spots on our board. No previous experience is necessary – just ideas, energy, and keen attention to the facts.

After serving the Lecture Fund for the past four years, I have seen that it is imperative to voice constructive opinions and to make decisions that are sound and informed. As I leave Georgetown, it is my hope that all Hoyas – liberal, conservative, independent or even apathetic – substantiate their claims and views with good cause and a sufficient number of facts. Seek and ye shall find.

Gerard P. Alolod (SFS ’05) Chair Emeritus Georgetown University Lecture Fund

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