Hampshire College cancels gun rights speaker


For The Recorder
Published: 12/7/2017 10:35:35 PM

AMHERST — Hampshire College canceled an event with a women’s empowerment and gun rights advocate Wednesday night, a last-minute decision that rankled both the speaker and the group that brought her to campus.

“What really happened is this,” wrote Antonia Okafor on Facebook. “Someone failed to do a Google search on me and then started freaking out once professors, students and the media started calling in, demanding that I don’t speak tonight.”

Okafor is an advocate for concealed carry on college campuses. She founded EmPOWERed, a movement of women on college campuses who want to use a gun for self-defense.

The college disagreed with Okafor’s take.

“We did not cancel the speech because of the speaker, the subject of the speech, or the content,” spokesman John Courtmanche said in a statement. “Hampshire College values academic freedom and the careful examination of ideas, including when those ideas may be controversial.”

Courtmanche said the college canceled the event when officials realized that Junoon: South Asian and International Students Association, the student group sponsoring the event, submitted an insufficient application.

“It lacked the necessary details we require in advance of any event, particularly one that might draw large audiences and intense debate, so we can allot the appropriate resources to staff and support the event,” Courtmanche said. The college apologized and Courtmanche said officials would try to reschedule Okafor.

Rahim Hirani, president of the South Asian and International Students Association, said the group scheduled the event less than a week ago and it was approved on Monday.

For Okafor’s talk, Hirani said he put up dozens of fliers around campus to spread the word. But a few hours before the event, Hirani received an email that there was not a full description of the presenter and her background. The email also said that with a controversial subject like the Second Amendment, extra considerations and precautions need to be put in place which cannot be done on a short notice.


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