Rutgers University Issues Apology to Lisa Daftari, Reinvites Her Following Backlash

By Aviv Khavich

  Lisa Daftari. Source:    lisadaftari.com

Lisa Daftari. Source: lisadaftari.com

Rutgers University has apologized to Lisa Daftari and reinvited her to speak on campus.

In a statement to the Centurion, Rutgers’ Office of Public and Media Relations stated that the University would like to “eliminate any confusion about its invitation for Lisa Daftari to speak on campus.”

Rutgers’ Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Ben Sifuentes-Jáuregui, apologized to Daftari in an email Monday afternoon, reaching out to her with several proposed dates to speak in November. The University added:

The University’s position on the free exchange of ideas is clear; the ability to respectfully present, discuss and debate matters in the public interest is at the heart of what every great university does. Such free and respectful discussion is fundamental to Rutgers’ core values and is practiced every day at Rutgers.

The letter insisted that Rutgers was committed to free speech, and that they were “certain that in the course of [Daftari’s] comments and follow-up questions from our students, [her] views will be fully articulated and will generate respectful and vigorous discussion both by those who agree and those who disagree with those views.”

Daftari had been slated to speak on Tuesday, October 16th, as part of the Speaker Series by Rutgers Undergraduate Academic Affairs. As the Centurion reported last Friday, Daftari’s speech was postponed indefinitely by the University following student efforts to have her event cancelled because of “Islamophobia”, including a Change.org petition. According to Jewish Journal, the University explained the reasoning for the initial cancellation was “out of fear that there could have been a security threat and they felt they had to be sensitive toward the students.”

Daftari’s cancellation had been met with significant backlash, including by students. Rutgers senior Andrea Vacchiano started a counter-petition on Change.org to have Daftari’s event reinstated. At the time of writing, the petition had 1,186 signatures. Vacchiano’s club, Young Americans for Liberty, had also indicated plans to host Daftari independently of the University.

Sifuentes-Jáuregui’s email to Daftari is reprinted in full below. The Centurion has reached out to Lisa Daftari for comment.

Dear Lisa:

I want to write to clear up any confusion regarding your invitation to speak at the University. To the degree that I may have contributed to the confusion, I hope you will accept my apology.

Please know that Rutgers values the free and open exchange of all viewpoints and that you are welcome to speak here. I understand, in fact, that you may have been invited by student groups to speak at the University as well as the event that was scheduled for tomorrow night.

With respect to rescheduling the event sponsored by Undergraduate Academic Affairs, I would like to propose the following dates for an appearance at the Rutgers New Brunswick campus:

· Wed 11/14
· Mon 11/19
· Mon 11/26
· Wed 11/28

I am certain that in the course of your comments and follow-up questions from our students, your views will be fully articulated and will generate respectful and vigorous discussion both by those who agree and those who disagree with those views.

Our position on the free exchange of ideas is clear; the ability to respectfully present, discuss and debate matters in the public interest is at the heart of what every great university does. Such free and respectful discussion is fundamental to Rutgers’ core values and is practiced every day at Rutgers.

Please let me know if any of these dates can be accommodated in your schedule.

Sincerely
Ben S.