Dear President Cartwright:
I was shocked and dismayed to read the news about Kent State University’s actions against David Airhart, which are little more than an attempt to silence dissent amongst its students.
Our colleges and universities ought to be spaces that encourage critical thinking and applaud the actions of students who stand up for justice. Dave Airhart’s actions in protesting military recruitment on his campus ought to be commended. Airhart was, after all, merely exercizing his right to free speech. More importantly, he was standing up against an unjust war and to prevent his fellow-students from being used, as he put it, as “cannon fodder” in an unjust and illegal war. What Airhart did required courage and a strength of conviction that we, as educators, ought to be proud of and encourage.
It would be a shame if Kent State Univeristy chose to tarnish its image by punishing a student for speaking truth to power. At your institution in particular, one would have expected a greater degree of openness to dissent and a greater concern for the First Amendment rights of students, given the tragic history of the events of May 4, 1970.
I urge you to drop your actions against Dave Airhart, and re-instate him without prejudice.
Nagesh Rao, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
The College of New Jersey