As a part of the third annual African-American History Month Lecture Series this week, Texas Tech will host speaker Angela Davis at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Helen DeVitt Jones Auditorium of the Museum of Texas Tech.
In response, the Tech College Republicans have created an online petition against Davis speaking at Tech to prevent the university from spending $12,000 to host the speaker, Rebeca Jurado, a senior political science major from Mexico City, Mexico, and Tech College Republicans chairwoman, said.
The petition, available on change.org and the Tech College Republicans Facebook page, has a goal of 4,000 signatures. As of Sunday, the petition has 369 signatures.
Jurado said the petition was made to let the greater Tech community know how the money is being used.
“We’re hoping to bring light to the issue that Texas Tech is spending $12,000 for Angela Davis to come speak,” she said. “We just want to bring light to the issue and have people express their thoughts and tell us why they don’t agree with this expenditure.”
Davis is a professor emerita of history and feminist studies, according to a Tech news release.
In the 1970s, Davis was placed on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list, according to an article by The New York Times. Davis was acquitted of all three charges against her, which were murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy.
Tech should not use public funds to host someone the community does not respect, Jurado said.
Carson Bonner, an undeclared sophomore from Houston and fundraising chairman of the Tech College Republicans, said the organization created the petition because they are against the use of Tech’s money, not Davis herself.
“It was created to prevent Texas Tech from spending $12,000 on someone who has a history of radical ideas about the Communist Party,” Bonner said, “and an anti-capitalist view of America.”
A counter petition was created for those who believe Davis should be allowed to speak, Tech Student Democrats President Cole Adams, a sophomore global studies and political science dual major from Lubbock, said.
The petition is also available on change.org and has 363 supporters as of Sunday, which is within 10 signatures of the Tech College Republicans petition.
“We were approached by the Texas Tech Feminist Majority Alliance about the Tech College Republicans’ petition,” he said. “We support freedom of speech and feel that it’s being breached by the Tech College Republicans through this petition.”
In the petition, Tech College Republicans listed Mia Love, Condoleezza Rice and Gwen Ifill as potential speakers.
Love is the first black female Republican to be elected to the U.S. Congress, according to her website, and represents the Fourth District of Utah.
Rice served as Secretary of State under former President George W. Bush, according to the U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian website, and was the first black woman in the position.
Ifill is a journalist and managing editor of Washington Week and co-anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, according to the PBS website.
“We have gotten a lot of very angry and upset comments because people who don’t agree with this lecture believe that they should bring someone else,” Jurado said. “A lot of people have recommended Mia Love, who is someone we also recommended.”
Not everyone in the Tech and Lubbock communities agrees with the views of the right-leaning speakers suggested instead, Adams said.
Davis’ speech will ultimately benefit Tech, he said, and those involved with both petitions are simply standing up for their beliefs.
“When it comes down to the money Angela Davis is being paid, she’s being paid very modestly in comparison to other speakers,” Adams said. “I think $12,000 is very reasonable within the realm of cost. As a research institution, it’s critical we allow people of different opinions to come in and speak.”
Robyn Adams, a junior media strategies major from Houston, said she was initially disappointed when she saw the Tech College Republicans petition and hopes people of all standpoints and beliefs will attend the lecture.
“I do agree everyone has a right to their own opinion,” she said. “It’s important that accurate facts are out there about Angela Davis.”
The lecture provides an opportunity to discuss society problems, she said, and should not be viewed as a racial or political issue.
The issue comes down to the cost, not Davis’ history or lecture topic, Bonner said.
“Tech College Republicans are for freedom of speech, but we don’t support Angela Davis being paid,” he said. “Our goal is to stop where the money comes from.”
Davis’ lecture is free and open to the public.