This Thursday, March 9, Michael Knowles is scheduled to speak on campus at the invitation of the UB chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom student group. The UB English department acknowledges that “as a public university, it is a fundamental value of UB that all members of the campus community and their invited guests have a right to peacefully express their views and opinions, regardless of whether others may disagree with those expressions” (from UB policies). However, in this case we do not feel that hosting this speaker is compatible with a commitment to “diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect.” Consequently, we join the UB Humanities Institute and the UB Gender Institute in expressing our support and sympathy for the transgender community in face of an upcoming event that seeks to contest their humanity. There should be no place at UB for the discourse of transphobia and hate speech of any kind, and providing a platform for such speech is potentially an incitement to violence against groups demonstrably less powerful and more vulnerable than those who would deny their right to exist. With this in mind we encourage you to read the statement composed by our colleague, Carrie Bramen, director of the Gender Institute; and to sign and share with others the letter she has sent to President Tripathi. https://www.buffalo.edu/genderin.html
We in the Department of English acknowledge the land on which the University at Buffalo operates is the territory of the Seneca Nation, a member of the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations Confederacy. Please see linked statement.
The English Department coheres around the idea that language, literature, and culture are foundational sites for engagement with difference. Diversity profoundly affects our work, our world, and our relationships with one another, within our department and beyond. We deeply value works and materials that challenge dominant narratives and perspectives, that offer multiple vantage points, analyses of oppression, and ways of imagining change, while we seek to teach hegemonic works against the grain. We believe literary and cultural scholarship offer essential context and critical terms and frames for understanding and interpreting the status of difference.
Diversity is a priority and a living, evolving concern for our department. We are committed to creating change so that diversity is further reflected in our faculty, graduate and undergraduate programs, curricula, and pedagogy.