To the Editor:
Despite the appeal to security and necessity, the decision to cancel classes Sept. 8 (“For Hu’s visit, class to be canceled” 8/31) remains a sad one. Having Hu speak at Yale may be a feather in Yale’s cap, but that is a much less impressive achievement if the cap is a mortarboard being stomped on in the process.
If the security needs surrounding this visit could not be accommodated on campus, the right place for the speech is probably somewhere in the athletic stadiums, where security personnel could easily put up a clear barrier and outnumber students if necessary. But we did not cancel graduation for the visit of George W. Bush, nor classes for the visit of President Clinton, and the mere presence of such a dignitary as Hu cannot be a legitimate reason for such an extraordinary violation of the University’s commitment to teaching.
If Hu’s visit to America resulted in some guarantee of human rights — or some move in the direction of fair trade rather than free trade, trade not based on the cheapness of goods produced by workers working 12-hour days, then indeed there might be cause for a major interruption of University business. But I would hope that even then, the celebration would take place in the football field, not in the cancelation of classes and police pushing out professors.
Aug. 31, 2005
The writer is a professor of English.