News | Student Life

Gilchrist says he would not accept CUCR invitation

Minuteman Project leader Jim Gilchrist will not be coming back to Columbia.

Gilchrist wrote in an email that “after careful thought, I will not entertain, nor will I accept, an invitation from Columbia” to speak on campus. The Columbia University College Republicans had been considering inviting the controversial figure to speak at an event, although they had not formally invited him.

The Minuteman Project, which patrols the Mexican border for illegal immigrants, calls itself “a citizens’ vigilance operation monitoring immigration, business, and government.” Critics have accused the vigilante group of pursuing a thinly veiled racist agenda.

“It seems pointless to speak to a campus where witch-hunters of free speech so often dictate, through intimidation and disruption, who will be allowed to participate in liberty and who will not,” he wrote in a comment on the Spectator website.

Gilchrist’s last visit to campus, at a CUCR-sponsored event in October 2006, led to rowdy protests. The incident garnered national media attention and sparked a debate over free speech on college campuses.

“If Columbia University ever establishes a universal policy of free speech, then I might have an interest in speaking there,” Gilchrist said in an email explaining his decision not to return to Columbia.

He had previously told Spectator that he “would gracefully accept an invitation to engage in free speech at Columbia.”

On Wednesday, Gilchrist wrote in a comment on a Spectator staff editorial about him: “I am going to resolve your controversy surrounding the possibility that I might be invited to speak at your campus. … I would not be reaching an audience with the caliber of intellect and reasoning necessary to stimulate progressive and productive debate.”

CUCR President William Prasifka, CC ’12, said in an email that “no final decision with regard to Jim Gilchrist had been made.” The purpose of inviting Gilchrist to speak, he added, would be “to discuss academic freedom and the freedom of the University.”

Megan Kallstrom contributed reporting.

yasmin.gagne@columbiaspectator.com

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borderraven posted on

I think Jim Gilchrist should do Columbia again.

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Anonymous posted on

How big of him. No one invited him. He is dying to speak to any audience he can, ands no one wants him.

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Anonymous posted on

“It seems pointless to speak to a campus where witch-hunters of free speech so often dictate, through intimidation and disruption, who will be allowed to participate in liberty and who will not,” Gilchrist 
Oh really??? Through intimidation and disruption, I call the comment he left on the last spec article a form of intimidation. How dare him attack Columbia students for expressing their opinions? He was the one that personally attacked and tried to intimidate students, but what more can we expect from such a hateful person? People with little intelligence resort to insults!!

And why are the College Republicans still claiming that he was being invited to talk about academic freedom? Stop the BS and stand up for the true intentions of his invitation, ATTENTION. I understand that is difficult being a Republican in this institution but if you really wanted to convince or engage in useful conversations you would bother to bring someone with more authority to talk on that subject. What credentials does Gilchrist have? what a B.A. in Journalism, last time I checked a Bachelors Degree does not make you an expert. Instead of wasting time with this man, Plasifka should be looking into more equipped individuals to discuss "academic freedom". 

If you really want to bring Gilchrist then bring him to discuss the work he does. Not academic freedom, not immigration because honestly he is not an expert on none of those fields. 

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Anonymous posted on

Freedom from speech is not freedom from criticism, or from other people's freedom of speech. 

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Anonymous posted on

*of speech

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Anonymous posted on

Very true, but does freedom of speech include the freedom from having your stage rushed while putting on a university-sanctioned event?

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