Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Rise in Govt. Speakers: Rove, Gingrich GU-Bound

With an upswing in political speakers on campus due to the current political climate, two high-profile speakers, Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich, will be speaking at the university this month.

Bryan Woll (COL ’12), president of the Georgetown University College Democrats, said, “The increase in speakers coming to campus recently appears to be due in large part to the heightened importance of this midterm election year. By the end of next week, the College Dems will have hosted four members of Congress to speak on campus.”

Thanks to its location in the nation’s capital, the university has an edge in attracting prominent political figures.

“One of the wonderful things about a Georgetown education is the opportunity, year in and year out, to hear from speakers from the public sector,” Scott Fleming, the vice president of federal relations, said.

Rove, senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, will speak to members of the university community in Lohrfink Auditorium on April 21.

“We will not be releasing the exact structure of the event and security in advance. But we do hope to have an event that fosters dialogue and promotes the posing of challenging questions to the speaker while still having a successful and effective lecture and Q-and-A session,” Dara Gold (COL ’10), the chair for Lecture Fund, said of the Rove event.

Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, will be screening his new documentary on Pope John Paul II, “9 Days That Changed the World,” on April 19 in the ICC Auditorium.

Georgetown University College Republicans Chairman Geoffrey Bible (SFS ’12) said the organization was contacted by Gingrich’s office and worked with the Catholic Student Association to arrange the screening. Gingrich has been premiering his film at universities across the country this spring.

“People should go to see Gingrich because it is not just him, but it is his movie about Pope John Paul II and his historic trip to communist Poland. This will be a great movie,” Bible said in an e-mail.

While Rove typically charges $35,000 for a speaking engagement, the Lecture Fund was able to secure the event for only $8,000, according to Student Activities Commission minutes. SAC approved the event in a 5-3-3 vote and granted $8,500 for security and venue at a Feb. 8 meeting. Neither SAC Public Relations Director Ruiyong Chen (SFS ’13) nor Gold commented on the reasons behind the drop in Rove’s asking price.

Earlier this year, a Jan. 21 speech given by Gen. David Petraeus in Gaston Hall was interrupted by anti-war protests. The Rove event could again spur discussions on Georgetown’s campus due to Rove’s influential role in the Bush administration, where he was a vocal backer of the wars in the Middle East and Bush’s anti-terrorism policies. According to the Lecture Fund, the upcoming event will include a lengthy Q-and-A session.

“I dislike that they chose to bring Rove to campus as giving him this platform to speak legitimizes his opinions,” Ben Mansour (COL ’13) said.

On the Rove matter, Bible said, “People should go to see Rove because no matter how you view him, it is undeniable that he is a highly gifted political adviser.”

Bible pointed out that protests against speakers, such as those at Petraeus’ address, seemed to target conservative speakers.

“I find it interesting that it seems that only the conservative speakers are threatened with protesting; even if you disagree with someone’s ideas it is still within their constitutional right to state those ideas,” Bible said.

Jon Askonas (SFS ’13), coordinator of the Hoyas for Respectful Dialogue group that formed in response to the Petraeus protests, also said the protests seemed lopsided in a year filled with a wide variety of speakers.

Woll took a different stance on the issue.

“As far as protests go, we believe that they are a symptom of both the prevailing sentiments of the student body and the lack of an opportunity to engage in real, honest and educated dialogue on important issues,” he said.

Speaking of future speaker events, Bible said that he hopes fewer protests will occur as guests are addressing audience members.

“If people wish to protest at these events I would simply like to remind them that the First Amendment applies to everyone. If they want to be heard, they also must let these speakers be heard. Open dialogue is great, but only when it is dialogue, not people cutting off these speakers who have been kind enough to come here,” he said.”

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