U. of C. students and faculty stage a second protest against Steve Bannon appearance in front of Booth School
By TONIA HILL
Students groups, faculty, and community members gathered outside of the Booth School of Business, 5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., on the University of Chicago’s campus on a freezing Friday afternoon to protest Steve Bannon.
Bannon is the former founding member and executive chairman of the board of Breitbart News and former Chief Strategist to President Donald Trump. Bannon stepped down from his post at Breitbart in January. Last month, he accepted an invitation to speak at U. of C.
Booth professor and Stigler Center Director Luigi Zingales invited Bannon. The event will be a debate centering on the economic benefits of globalization and immigration.
Students and faculty members are calling for the University to rescind the invitation and to ban Bannon from the campus.
“Steven Bannon is one of the world’s most prominent and influential defenders of White nationalism and, that is the reason why he has been invited to speak at the Booth School that is also the reason why is he is not welcome here,” said Anton Ford, U. of C. professor of philosophy. “We stand in solidarity for all of the people who have been targeted by Bannon, Breitbart, Donald Trump and by the violent white supremacists who came to Charlottesville [last] August.”
Bannon as Chief Strategist for the Trump Administration was the driving force behind some of the controversial policies that were enacted within the last year against marginalized groups in the country.
“Giving a platform to a prominent white nationalist would be a further signal to people of color that they are not welcome on this campus, and would bring other white supremacists onto campus, likely bringing violence with them,” said U. of C. student groups in a written statement. “The invitation to Bannon represents a physical threat to the university community as a whole, and especially to our students, faculty, and staff of color.”
Last Friday, student groups, the community, and faculty members staged a protest outside of the Booth School. About eight counter-protestors were positioned across the street
Casandra Alcaraz, a Chicago high school student, was one of many that spoke during the protest. Alcaraz and her classmates are students from the Youth Connection Charter School. The Youth Connection Charter School system has 19 school campuses across the city and services at-risk students.
Alcaraz was also brought to the U.S. as a child and is protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Last September, the administration announced that they were cutting the program.
About 800,000 people across the country are DACA recipients.
“This is my home,” Alcaraz said. “My family, just like many immigrant families, are hardworking we all came here for a chance at a better life. Steve Bannon has done nothing but belittle minorities. They [U. of C.] are inviting a man that claims immigrants make America less American.”
Other officials tied to Trump’s administration have also spoken at U. of C. former Press Secretary, Sean Spicer spoke during a speaker series event alongside David Axelrod at the Institute of Politics, last January. Corey Lewandowski, former Trump campaign manager, was on campus for an event last February. Lewandowski’s visit sparked protests outside of the Quadrangle Club, where the event was hosted.
Faculty members and U. of C. alumni have penned open letters to the university asking for to rescind the invitation to Bannon.
“We would like to strongly emphasize that we do this not because we are against free speech but because we are alarmed by the extreme ethno-nationalist and frankly racist views of Mr. Bannon,” said Marijke Stoll, a U. of C. alum.
The University released a statement regarding the planned debate.
“The University of Chicago is deeply committed to upholding the values of academic freedom, the free expression of ideas, and the ability of faculty and students to invite the speakers of their choice,” said U. of C.
University officials have not confirmed a date or time for the event.