“Under no circumstances will we be rescinding the invitation,” Luke Zaro, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’16 and president of the College Republicans said, regarding the decision to invite controversial right-wing journalist James O’Keefe.
The invitation comes just under a year after the invitation of conservative pundit Ann Coulter. Last year, College Republicans decided to cancel the event in the face of overwhelming dissent from students.
O’Keefe is probably best known for his role as founder of Project Veritas, that “investigate[s] and expose[s] corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud and other misconduct.” Throughout his career, he has exposed varying levels of corruption in organizations like the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and Planned Parenthood.
The event is scheduled for Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in Flom Auditorium and will include a question and answer segment as well as the opportunity to purchase a copy of O’Keefe’s book “Breakthrough: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy,” a New York Times Bestseller.
While some students, including Michael Billotti, Gabelli School of Business ’15 and president of the College Democrats, have expressed concern regarding the event, the reaction is less mild than the almost-instantaneous opposition to the announcement of Coulter’s event last year. For example, the Facebook page “Fordham Rams Against James O’Keefe,” a page not affiliated with the College Democrats, had 67 likes at the time of publication.
In an op-ed to run in this Tuesday’s edition of The Ram, the executive board of the College Democrats offered an “ethical case against James O’Keefe.” The op-ed first apologizes to the Fordham community for the “irresponsibility” of the decision to invite James O’Keefe, claiming that his presence would “delegitimize” the political dialogue between the clubs. The College Democrats are not advocating censorship or to “disenfranchise students from going to the speaking engagement,” but rather aim to inform the student body about “ethically questionable individuals invited to campus.”