GSA Statement on Candace Owens Event

As many students are aware, the undergraduate club Turning Point USA at SUNY Buffalo has invited the conservative commentator Candace Owens to speak on UB’s campus. Some graduate students have expressed disappointment and frustration that Owens has been invited and will appear on campus. These emotions are understandable, especially considering that “reporters” from Turning Point have, just this month, injured and harassed an instructor at Arizona State University.

At its best, the university is a place where faculty members and students can argue and disagree in substantive, thoughtful, and nuanced ways about complex issues. We believe that appearances by provocateurs like Owens hinder this mission. We do not believe that Turning Point USA treats UB as a place for learning, discovery, and genuine intellectual engagement; for them, UB is a prop in a predictable melodrama designed to divide and antagonize.

GSA recognizes that, as a public university, UB believes that it does not have the legal right to ban speakers on campus, even if students find those speakers to be wrongheaded, distasteful, harmful, or even hateful. But students also have a Constitutional right to protest or speak against Owens’ event. We call on University Police to protect protesting students and to safeguard their right to free expression and assembly. And to those students who choose to exercise their right to free expression by protesting this event: we stand with you.

Isaac Kolding, President
Sarah MacDougall, Vice President
Melanie March, Treasurer