Editorial: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Has Attacked Campus Free Speech


Photo courtesy of The White House.

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On May 23, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, astronaut Ellen Ochoa, and professional tennis player and activist Billie Jean King will speak on a Women in Leadership panel hosted by the nonprofit Sally Ride Science at UCSD. But Secretary Rice requests a special condition: no news media allowed.

Ironically, journalist and author Lynn Sherr will moderate the discussion, while journalists, including student reporters, will be turned away at the door.

Secretary Rice has not given an explanation for her request. The university has said that not all events are open to the public.

Sally Ride Science is housed on the UC San Diego campus and shares staff with UCSD Extension, meaning that public funding and student tuition are a substantial part of the makeup of this organization. Sally Ride is paying out $21,000 in speaking fees, while a Price Center reservation costs upwards of $500.

This instance is just another example of campus foundations granted special status, allowing them to benefit from the resources students help provide, without having to be subject to public accountability. It cannot be allowed to continue.

UCSD’s decision to uphold Secretary Rice’s request is a contradiction of its support of freedom of speech, but this event has failed to stir the usual campus free speech outrage. Private event or otherwise, Sally Ride Science is part of the fabric of the campus and must be subject to the same scrutiny to which other aspects of the public university are subject. This includes the right of students, specifically student journalists, to attend and inform others.

In this current culture of toxic distrust of news media, it is more important than ever that UCSD administration supports the right of the press to cover events.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Triton Editorial Board. This article was jointly written by Mo Al Elew, Shine Cho, Paige Prudhon, and Gabe Schneider. If you’d like to submit a response, or comment on a different issue affecting the UC community, please submit here.