In last month’s Catalyst, we reported on the league’s objections to a play that was to be performed at Tufts University. “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” is a play that contains some lines that are offensive to Catholics and we thought it was inappropriate for the university to host it.
As it turned out, the play was performed, but it did not receive the support that its admirers wanted. Originally scheduled during Orientation Week, the play did not get the sponsorship of the Orientation Committee (it voted not to sponsor the play after initially voting yes) and it refused to list the play in its calendar. In addition, the Orientation Committee published a letter in the student newspaper at the time the play was performed explaining its objections. This was reported to Dr. Donohue in a letter from Tufts Dean Bobbie Knable.
In a letter from Tufts President John DiBiaggio, Donohue was told that Tufts respects free speech, but “We also, however, have a strong tradition of respect for one another and will use this occasion of controversy to help our students better understand the issue of bigotry.” Donohue wrote back thanking Dean Knable and President DiBiaggio for their letters, saying that “your interest in free speech is balanced by your interest in combating bigotry.”
The league understands that college administrators must give wide latitude to student expression. All it asks is that the administration do what it can to register its official displeasure with objectionable student speech.