Florida Gulf Coast U. Suppresses Public Sphere

If people cannot read and hear a variety of opinions and have free discussion they have less information on which to make decisions and exercise freedom to vote with full understanding of issues.
Florida's university system was dismantled by governor Jeb Bush who appointed new trustees at each campus. These trustees put loyalty to Bush above intellectual freedom. At Florida Gulf Coast University (Ft.Myers--southwest Florida)the cancellation of speaker Terry Tempest Williams,, who has criticized Bush/Cheney environmental policies is just the latest example.

Ms. Williams book, "The Open Space of Democracy" is dedicated to her friend 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai. For an interview on Florida Gulf Coast University's censorship on behalf of the governor Jeb Bush for his brother, George Bush, see Censored: Public Fla. School Cancels Campus Speaker Fearing She Would Criticize Bush.

The Ft.Myers newspaper had a strong editorial criticizing this action:University Trustees Set Bad Example.

Here is a letter I wrote to the paper:

"Devaluing the Degree at Florida Gulf Coast University"

Terry Tempest Williams, member of the Ecology Hall of Fame and Naturalist-in-Residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History has not been allowed to speak at Florida Gulf Coast University because the President and Board of Trustees at FGCU do not like the fact that she has been critical of President Bush's environmental policy.

They are correct. On the PBS program, "Now with Bill Moyers" (March 8, 2002), Williams criticized the Bush/Cheney energy plan in action for opening sensitive redrock public lands in Utah to oil exploration. She noted: "Conservation is an act of democracy, the greatest good for the greatest numbers for the longest time. Surely, the protection of these natural treasures is fundamental to 'homeland security.' "
The individuals who oversee education at FGCU are made so short-sighted by their fealty to one political party that they compromise the public sphere for students. Thanks to them the FGCU graduate will be viewed as parochial, insular and only half-educated. While the Board and president have every right in their personal lives to turn from truths they do not like, they have a charge to the students that is more important than genuflection to a liege lord.
Kathleen de la Peña McCook
Ruskin, Florida