After nearly a year's worth of preparations that included $25,000, 12 Cornell Police Department officers and a bomb-sniffing dog, College Republicans heard yesterday afternoon that conservative pundit Ann Coulter '84 would not appear at her speaking engagement scheduled for tonight in Statler Auditorium. The syndicated columnist was slated to give a speech called "Why Liberals Are Wrong About Everything."
Coulter is considered to be one of the more controversial speakers on the campus circuit. Just this year, a Coulter speaking engagement at Indiana University (IU) made headlines when, according to a Feb. 24 article in the Indiana Daily Student, Coulter had to stop speaking more than 10 times for protesters to be removed when liberal and conservatives alike were involved in obscenity-riddled scuffles. Liberal protesters shouted that Coulter should "go back to Germany," and Coulter called an IU student "gay boy" during a question and answer session following her speech.
Paul Ibrahim '06, chairman of the College Republicans said "her people" called him yesterday afternoon to let him know that Coulter would not be speaking due to health reasons. "It's not serious, but it's one of those things that will prevent her from speaking," Ibrahim said, declining to elaborate further. He said that a Coulter engagement tomorrow in St. Louis is also in doubt. College Republicans are trying to reschedule Coulter or another conservative speaker.
Ibrahim said the Coulter speech was "the biggest event the College Republicans have put together as far as any of us can remember." Republicans have been preparing to bring Coulter to campus since the beginning of the academic year.
Michael Hint '06, the College Republicans' treasurer, said that expenses for the speech, arranged through the conservative Young America's foundation, included a $20,000 speaking fee as well as nearly $5,000 for other expenses including airfare, food, hotel accommodations auditorium rental and security.
"And now I have to return it all unless I can find a way to get her here," Hint said.
"Now you understand why I'm about to kill myself right now," Ibrahim joked. "It's unfortunate, but there's only so much we can do," he said.
Organizers had planned heavy security for the event, including 12 Cornell Police officers and a bomb-sniffing dog. "Last time she came she was assaulted," Ibrahim said, referring to Coulter's Cornell speech in 2001. Audience members threw fruit at Coulter and one attendee rushed the stage. Hint said that the dog was not requested by Coulter but by the CUPD.
Hint said raising money for the event involved "trying to beg and plead all the way around," securing funds from sources including various Cornell departments as well as private donors from across the community. Hint said that the CUPD also contributed $3,000.
Hint said he was hopeful that the Republicans could find a way to reschedule Coulter before the end of the year.
Mitch Fagen '07, president of the Cornell Democrats, said he was surprised to hear that Coulter's speech had been canceled.
"I did not have tickets. I wasn't really planning to attend," he said. "My view is that the best way to protest a crazy person is to ignore them," Fagen said.
"I don't know if I should say I'm sorry for the Republicans, because I'm not really sorry [that Coulter won't be speaking]," Fagen said, although he owned that the Republicans had invested a lot of time in preparing for the event and that it was something they were looking forward to.
Coulter was one of the founders of The Cornell Review, the bi-weekly conservative paper.
Archived article by David Wittenberg
Sun Staff Writer