On Wednesday, former FBI Director James Comey began leading a race and law enforcement lecture series at Howard University to the dismay of HU Resist. According to the campus activist group, administrators are “doing everything in their power” to ensure students are “unable to challenge” Comey, who is an endowed chair.
“We find it both appalling and disrespectful that such a person is given a platform to discuss ‘law enforcement and race’ at our Historically Black University,” the activists wrote in a statement. “Our message is clear: James Comey is not welcome here.”
According to a BuzzFeed, Comey will only speak with a handful of university community members, and administrators are screening those students carefully. And while three dozen students RSVP’d for the lecture, none have been approved to attend.
A statement released to BuzzFeed on behalf of Howard University states admittance was done on a first-come-first-serve basis. Questions will be selected by the campus newspaper editor, who will lead the Q&A.
“There are plenty members of our community who are eager and excited to engage in rich dialogue with Mr. Comey,” Crystal Brown, Howard’s vice president and chief communications officer, told the news outlet.
But HU Resist contends pre-determined questions directed to Comey will cut off chances for real dialogue.
“It’s interesting that Comey talked about freedom of speech at convocation, yet in order to attend the series you have to be pre-approved,” a group activist said.
The group—who previously opposed both Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Trump—met with administrators about Comey, but said their concerns were “blatantly disregarded,” The Washington Post reports.
Students protested Comey’s convocation speech earlier this year, citing his FBI background as “antithetical to the social justice movements championed by young black activists and Howard itself.”
Comey, who pledged to donate his $100,000 salary to a Howard scholarship for students in foster care, said he “loves the enthusiasm of the young folks,” but “wishes they would understand what a conversation is” about the group’s concerns.