Thursday, April 2, 2015

An Open Letter to Alma College

Dear Alma College:

Dr. Benjamin Carson’s visit to the College is over, and I’ve survived, but not without some bumps and bruises. His visit at the invitation of the College has left me feeling violated and abused.  My colleagues and I asked you politely several times (here and here, for example) not to provide a platform for a man who makes daily headlines for his hateful comments about the LGBTQIA community and feminists. You ignored us. You proudly and publicly invited him to campus. Somehow, you managed to escalate the hurt even further by cordially inviting me to lunch with Dr. Carson, hosted by Alma College’s Diversity and Inclusion Office.

My invitation to Dr. Carson’s lunch is a funny story: At first I accepted the invitation because I thought the Diversity and Inclusion Office was hosting a lunch about Dr. Carson’s visit. I thought, surely, that there was no way that the office in charge of promoting equality on campus would host a lunch with Dr. Carson. I sincerely thought the lunch (if it were about Dr. Carson’s visit) was the College’s way of trying to make amends for the wave of hurt and insult that followed on the tide of Dr. Carson’s visit. The day of the lunch, however, and much to my horror, I realized that the lunch was with Dr. Carson. I quickly rescinded my acceptance of the invitation after I realized my mistake because I choose not socialize with or give my precious time and resources away to people who publicly and brazenly spew hate for the people and the causes I love.

Before I start talking about my mistakes, however, let me first discuss the College’s mistakes. The College hosted Dr. Carson under the guise that we value tolerating opinions that are diverse from our own. In doing so, you stood on the throat of inclusion. You’ve left many of us feeling dismissed and disenfranchised. Your cowardly “fix” to the situation (i.e., demoting Dr. Carson from Honor’s Day speaker to a mere guest speaker and facilitating a Diversity Dialogue) was simply a dressed up way of “negotiating with terrorists” who adore a man threatening, with his run for political office, the livelihood and well-being of the LBGTQIA community and people who strive for the end of sexism and gender inequality. The College should have been brave and refused to dedicate time socializing with a person who hates homosexuality and feminism. You should have rescinded your invitation and taught our students a valuable lesson: The First Amendment does, indeed, guarantee everyone freedom of speech, but this freedom does not guarantee free speech without consequences. Sometimes the consequences of being a public bully are that people don’t want to hang out with you and they don’t invite you to come over and play (or in this case pay you to speak to their students). Instead, you punted and it landed on the noses of your LGBTQIA and feminist Scots.

Somehow, you made the situation infinitely worse, yet again, when some students were required to attend his talk as part of a course requirement. I understand that “Due to FEC rules Dr. Carson will be unable to discuss any political matters during his time here on Alma's campus, but will be happy to chat about his rich legacy as an accomplished neurosurgeon, author, and philanthropist” (Direct quote from my invitation to lunch with Carson). Your “compromise” didn’t make the situation any better. In fact, it merely added to the cowardice of the College’s reaction. Perhaps you need to read what you did in black and white: You invited someone with an apparent agenda to marginalize gay and feminist Scots and decided it would be okay as long as everyone promised not to bring up the pink elephant in the room. Shame on you.

Now, let me talk about my role in this disaster. I should have been more persistent and vocal. I should have organized a day without women. I should have rallied people to boycott the talk. Instead, I was passive. I was complicit. I’ve let my students down, especially those who may see me as a role model. Students, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I realize that many of you were hurt by Carson’s visit and I feel responsible because I should have done more. I should have protected you. I’ve learned my lesson about being complicit and quiet. I’ll never again stand on the sidelines while the College invites a bully to campus.

The damage is done, and I’m in my office licking my wounds. So, what’s to be done now? First, a public apology is in order. You’ve hurt many Scots with your actions. You should say you are sorry. Next, you should make it right. I suggest one way to make amends is to state publicly and in no uncertain terms that Alma College is an ally to the LGBTQIA community, that we support marriage equality, and that we’re feminist (Yes, you have to use the f-word.). Don’t use euphemisms in your statement like you’ve done in the past. Although I believe that you never intended to hurt anyone, good intentions and doing the right thing are different. It’s not too late to do the right thing.

Dr. Brandi Stupica
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Alma College


  1. You obviously did not attend Dr. Carson’s speech. If you had you would have heard him speak about uniting our country and its citizens. He spoke about stopping the hate. He spoke about fixing our economy. He spoke about religious freedom. He spoke about many things, and not once did he speak about stifling women or about hating gays. He does confidently speak his mind, as is his free right to do. He does not support gay marriage. What exactly is your problem with that? Get over it and move on. It does not matter how many angry bullies, such as yourself try to shut him down. He is still going to speak his opinions, and I thank GOD that for that. It is people like you that spew lies, hate, and intolerance; not Dr. Carson. You tote your “experiences in raising children”. Give me a break - talk to me in 20 years, once you have really experienced life, children, marriage struggles…. Life. Let me be clear, Ms Stupica - you are a bully; a stupid, self centered, immature egotist. Thank you Alma College for graciously hosting Dr. Carson‘s event. The right decision was made.
    Traverse City, MI

    1. Awesome reply, you really showed that bully by.... bullying them...
      What Meta!
      And you really took home Doc Carson's message of "inclusion" by trying to exclude someone who's opinion is different than your own....

      See what I'm getting at? Do you see it?

    2. Do you see it? At least Prof. Stupica and I have the courage to sign our names to our opinion. lol - Thanks and keep it coming!!

  2. The gnome nothing in Lyndsay's response remotely resembles bullying her into silence. The professor is the only one saying Dr Carson has no right to speak. The professor's statements are not protected by free speech doctrines because the are totally false and given her education level and ability to confront dr Carson which she choose not to take she is grossly negligent in her statements. Her accusations that compare Dr Caron's visit to Alma College is not only totally crazy it is similar to yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Well said KKT!! My question to the prof. is.... If you are that disappointed with Alma College - why do you work there? You have free choice also. But just so you know, when making that choice, please be aware that Alma College has hosted many different types of speakers - Madelyn Albright spoke at Alma College. No one protested that. I am not a bully - But I do believe in speaking with facts. Dr. Carson does not go around saying hateful things about people. I only ask that you get your fact straight.

  5. Perhaps it's not worth piling on at this point, but I feel I must. As an alum, I'm both embarrassed and disturbed by Dr. Stupica's post. I can't for the life of me understand where such ignorance has its place in the halls of higher learning. Not at a Liberal Arts school. Not at my alma mater. Not at Alma College. I'd like to say that Dr. Stupica's brand of preaching tolerance through intolerance is shocking, but it's not. It may be terribly unfortunate, it may be very sad, and it is definitely small minded, but no, it's not shocking. I realize the topic at hand is one that is otherwise incendiary given the sensitivities on both sides. The debate over basic human rights is one that hardly makes sense to me, for it seems as though it should have been long decided. But rather for some reason, given some religious text and religious followings, there are those that believe it’s okay to deny people their inalienable rights and their pursuit of unhappiness (…I mean happiness…). So let me be clear, while I completely disagree with the professor's approach, I'm not taking up her opposition's cause either. Many of Dr. Carson's arguments and his political perspectives regarding certain social matters and the rights of select peoples will be proven to be on the wrong side of history. Of that, I’m confident. However, see him for what he is. He's a politician. He takes a side, and he has an agenda. Some of what he says, and even why he says it may be distasteful, it may even be repugnant. Yet, I completely agree with the school on this one, and as should anyone who is in the role of a true educator. This is/was an opportunity for learning. You cannot preach for education and tolerance through censorship and the silencing of your opposition. Alma College appears to pay Dr. Stupica to educate the minds of the college’s students, and yet she's apologizing to them for not doing a better job to propagate ignorance and censorship? It does sound like an apology is in order, but not the hollow one already offered. Encouraging a controversial topic to have a light shined upon it isn't cowardice. Drawing out your opponent in an effort to better understand, and potentially challenge differing viewpoints is exactly the ideals that Alma College and any institution like it should embrace. To the one area that I would agree with Dr. Stupica, there should be consequences for saying certain things. Short of a sincere apology to the college and her students she has so apparently ill-served, I sure hope the possibility of her tenure wouldn't impede the appropriate consequence. I don't mean for this to be just another note that is bullying the bullies' bully...but, I don't see why she should remain at the school. We have enough “-ists” and “-isms” in this world already. The true test of an institution of higher learning should to be overcome those. The only intolerance should be that of ignorance, not necessarily the ignorant. The ignorant are simply who we should be targeting to enlighten. Just imagine the good that could come by reaching just one student that might otherwise succumb to bigotry through politics and ideologues. This is precisely the opportunity that the good professor would choose to turn away. All the while running the risk of creating an allure for the unknown through censorship (and what would you expect when you tell developing minds that they can't have something...underage drinking, drugs, and other social taboos have never had their place in college or university life, have they?)?
    You may not agree with Dr. Carson. I don’t. However, don’t ignore him. Expose him. Dr. Stupica, it looks like you have clearly missed your calling. You're no better than the addressed target of your vitriol.

    A concerned Scot

  6. Alma Scott thanks for your post. I think you hit the nail on the head. Censorship is distructive and stunts education and growth. Advocating remaining ignorant certainly has no place in the educational system. For the record, Carson will unlikely be found on the wrong side of histroy (at least in the long run). Look at Rome. Further, Carson is a policitan but also a thoughtful great man. He does not advocate denying inalienable rights to anyone because of gender orientation. Marriage is not a constitutional right? Freedom of association is a constitutional right. Carson does not in any way restrict association between two people who love each other. Addressing the concerns of homosexual couples and other people about heathcare, property, taxes, etc. are legitmate concerns. Carson as many others agree these issues need to be discussed and addressed without changing a longstanding and sacred institution which change is harmful and hurtful to another segment of the population. I hope you and others can understand there are many many many people to take into consideration here. Not just the wishes of the homosexual community. God bless you for your comments.