Scalia talk provokes pre-lecture protest

Students organized a protest prior to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’’s presentation at the 17th Richard E. Snyder President’s Lecture yesterday afternoon.

At the group’s largest, approximately 20 students chanted and held up banners outside of the Gantcher Center where the lecture was held, according to protest organizer Zoe Munoz. Protesters called out slogans like ““casting ballots is a right,” “not just for the rich and white”” and “”racist, sexist, anti-queer, we don’t want Scalia here.””

According to Munoz, students also plan to hold a teach-in on Friday to deconstruct Scalia’’s ideas and statements.

““There were a lot of students from a lot of different groups on campus that were very upset that Tufts University basically has provided the space and the platform for Justice Scalia to come and speak,”” Munoz, a senior, said. “”Scalia is a powerful man with a powerful voice and what he says has a tangible effect on people’s lives, and he has used that power and voice and position to disenfranchise, to dehumanize, and to harm people.””

The students who organized the protest were not a part of a coalition of various student groups, but rather a collection of people who were not happy with the university’’s choice of speaker, Munoz said.

Protester Michelle Lau, who is a member of the Asian American Alliance, said that she went to the protest in order to educate people about unjust and dehumanizing legislation that the government directly enforces.

““I participated [in the protest] because Scalia not only tolerates, but actively promotes many forms of oppression, including racism and sexism, and this is absolutely unacceptable,”” Lau, a sophomore, said.

Friday’s planned teach-in will provide a broader historical and political context to Scalia’’s lecture statements and responses, according to Munoz. The event will include an analysis of Scalia’’s doctrine of originalism and discuss the Court’s decision to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act this summer.

““We want to continue dialogue and make sure that people and students are aware that [Scalia] isn’t just some politician or some justice,”” Munoz said. “”He’’s someone who has had a very negative impact on the country and on communities that many Tufts students are a part of, like LGBT groups, minorities, the working poor and et cetera.””

Not all Tufts students supported the protests, however.

““I think that everyone should be given a platform to freely express their opinions, no matter how controversial they are,”” Hirosei Kuruma, a sophomore who attended the lecture, said. ““It helps to encourage discourse on campus surrounding these sorts of issues.””

The Richard E. Snyder President’s Lecture Series is intended to spark the intellectual conversation on campus through presenting a “forum for the presentation of provocative points of view on matters of national and international importance,” according to the Tufts Office of the President’s website.