Monday, March 19, 2018

My Letter to Golden West College and Board of Regents

Below is the text of a letter I have sent today to the president of Golden West College (Wes Bryan), as well as the chancellor and trustees of the Coast Community College District in connection with the event on March 14, 2018. (see link below)

Dear Dr. Bryan et al

My name is Gary Fouse, and I am a retired resident of Orange County. I am retired from law enforcement and taught part-time for 18 years at a major California university. On the evening of March 14, I attended an event at Golden West College entitled, "Islam 101". The speaker was Ms. Nicole Bovey. It should be mentioned at the outset that this event was advertised publicly and members of the public/community were able to attend. Aside from myself, there were several other people from the community present. In addition, I videotaped the entire event. Since this was a public event at at public institution, I was acting within my rights under State law. My narrative on the incident and the video are linked below.

I would also like to point out that neither I nor any other individual ever disrupted the event or acted with anything other than respect and courtesy  toward the speaker and GW staff. If there is any question about that, I invite you to view my video. Ms Bovey invited the audience to raise their hands anytime they had a question.

What I want to bring to your attention is that when members of the audience (including myself) raised our hands and asked probing questions, the Golden West professors sponsoring the event took exception. I observed (and videotaped) one questioner being asked to step outside by a GW professor. He was able to return after a few minutes. During the break, campus police appeared in the room and two other people were asked to step outside and speak to police (also videotaped). I spoke to the persons involved afterward, and they informed me that they were told that their questions were inappropriate.

Later, after I asked another question to Ms Bovey, she interrupted her answer to object to my videotaping. I politely informed her that since this was a public event at a public institution, I had the absolute right to film. I also stated that during the break, I had informed one of the campus policemen that I was videotaping, and he affirmed my right to do so. I was polite but firm, and I heard one of the professors present affirm that I was correct. Shortly after this (at about 8:30), one of your professors came to the microphone and terminated the event-one hour before its announced end (9:30) while Ms Bovey was trying to answer a question again from a community member. It was clear in my mind that this was an effort to rescue Ms Bovey from having to answer more difficult questions about Islam.

I want to reiterate that none of the above community members including myself were rude or insulted the speaker or her faith. We were not disruptive. We merely raised our hands and asked the question when recognized. We were merely asking difficult questions that were in striking contrast to the happy face presentation and softball questions that were being asked by others.

As you are aware from world events going on today, Islam is a controversial topic, and Ms Bovey's announced intention was to clear up any "misunderstandings" about Islam.  Her chosen subject matter or lesson plan, if you will, was not designed to do that. Again, I invite you to watch the videotape. That some audience members chose to address the elephants in the back of the room and seriously give Ms Bovey a chance to clear up the "misunderstandings" was deemed objectionable is an insult to the spirit of what a college or university is supposed to be-an  open and civil exchange of views with all sides given a chance to be heard. Not only did Ms Bovey fail to address any of the questions without evasion and what I would term "tap dancing", in my opinion, members of your own faculty attempted to censor the discussion to the extent of calling in the campus police and then prematurely shutting down the event!! I think you will agree, this was contrary to what we call academic freedom. To me as a former college instructor, this was not an exercise in education. It was an exercise in indoctrination. I hope you will take the time to view my video.


Gary Fouse

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