Recently, the university invited Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of RedState.com, to speak at Founder’s Day on Feb. 13. This decision has prompted vocal dissention and disapproval from many within the student body and faculty.
As a group of concerned students, we express serious reservations about inviting Erickson to speak at an event that celebrates Mercer’s dedication to integrity, respect and acceptance of diversity.
Rather than living by the values of responsible citizenship or emulating this dedication, Erickson has made his fame and fortune through a career of incessant vitriol and extremism. He has left behind a legacy of notable sound bites, including calling the Democratic National Convention the “Vagina Monologues in Charlotte.”
Once when referring to Supreme Court Justice Souter’s retirement, Erickson wrote, “The nation loses the only goat f***ing child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court in David Souter’s retirement.”
Even the First Lady has fallen under Erickson’s verbal abuse, having been called a “Marxist harpy wife.” This is not a matter of political disagreement as we ourselves come from diverse political backgrounds. We also respect Erickson’s right to free speech and expression.
Nevertheless, it is deeply troubling that Erickson has been selected to represent university values that insist on and celebrate diversity by recognizing the dignity and worth of every person. Ideally, we would ask that Erickson’s invitation to speak at Founder’s Day be revoked, but this is unlikely to happen at this late stage.
Instead, we advocate for an opportunity for Erickson to speak with the Mercer community about fostering productive, democratic debate in a question and answer format.
We also encourage SGA and those involved with the selection of Founder’s Day speakers to make the process more transparent in order to invite a speaker who better exemplifies the Mercer ethos of cultivating inclusivity and civic engagement.
We ask our peers to research Erickson in order to become more informed students.
Finally, we are grateful to have had faculty support throughout the entire process, who have modeled what it means to be responsible and concerned citizens, engaged in productive and respectful dialogue and will not blindly support something that goes against the values they adhere to and teach.
No one, including faculty and staff, should be coerced into participating in an arena that challenges their conscience. We are appreciative of an opportunity such as Founder’s Day to celebrate our university as well as the faculty and staff who genuinely care about their students.