This Tuesday, the College Republicans will be bringing Shannon Reeves, a conservative black lecturer to UCSB as part of their “American Heroes” lecture series. It may surprise some students to see that listed on the flier as a co-sponsor is the A.S. Student Commission on Racial Equality, which is usually known for its sponsorship of more progressive events such as the upcoming Student of Color Conference. The truth is that S.C.O.R.E. believes that black conservatism is a legitimate issue for communities of color, and one that should be brought up for discussion so that progressive students can be exposed to Reeves’ position and reflect on the implications this has on political organizing. Shannon Reeves’ credentials as the president of the Oakland chapter of the NAACP and secretary of the California Republican Party also make him an important speaker, given the history of California politics and student activism around issues such as affirmative action.
So why is S.C.O.R.E. angry with the College Republicans if we support the idea of someone like Shannon Reeves and have even helped to fund the event? Because the College Republicans have been deceptive and needlessly dishonest in their fund raising and promotion of this event. When S.C.O.R.E. was approached with a request for co-sponsorship of the Shannon Reeves event we were told that this was an event primarily put on by the Residence Halls Association and would take place at Manzanita Village. We were also told that this event would be promoted as a program for Black History Month. The representative who made the request is the secretary and lectures coordinator for the College Republicans, as well as the Area Seven director of the California College Republicans State Board, but only presented himself as the multicultural awareness chair for Manzanita Village. He stated that the College Republicans were co-sponsors of the event but when we asked for clarification about how the event would be publicized he replied that it was not part of the College Republican lecture series and would not be advertised as such. This is why S.C.O.R.E. was shocked to see the recently posted fliers which clearly advertise the event as part of the College Republicans’ “American Heroes” lecture series, which in the past has included speakers such as David Horowitz, Oliver North and Ward Connerly. The title of the discussion is “Black and Conservative: Jesse Jackson’s Worst Nightmare,” which was not in the funding request letter we received. In addition, the flier makes no mention of Black History Month. Furthermore, the event will not be held in the residence halls, as we were originally told, but at Embarcadero Hall in Isla Vista. These inconsistencies lead S.C.O.R.E. to believe that the College Republicans were operating on certain assumptions about our organization and what we would be willing to fund which led them to lie to us in order to receive money.
The assumed biases of our organization by the College Republicans are particularly offensive because we most likely would have given money to this project regardless of who was coordinating it or how it was being promoted. However, the Republicans will continue to complain about the silencing of conservative voices on this campus and the “oppression” of their organization. The College Republicans forget that just because UCSB is considered a liberal campus doesn’t mean that progressive messages are always well received. Groups such as the Student Commission On Racial Equality and other organizations are constantly having to fight to get our perspectives recognized and continually find ourselves in positions where we have to ask for funding from groups that don’t necessarily agree with the issues we are presenting. The point is that we work for our causes honestly and persistently, without the use of manipulative tactics. If the College Republicans want to do more than just cause bouts of controversy and really have a message they would like to get across, maybe they should learn how to be straightforward about what they are doing. It is difficult to be heard when you’re lying.
Rebekah Waldron is the co-chair of the A.S. Student Commission on Racial Equality.