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Opinion Submission: The Amala Ekpunobi speaker event and the case for listening to differing views

| Social Chair of WU College Republicans

Following the announcement that the WashU College Republicans (WUCR) were planning on hosting conservative speaker Amala Ekpunobi, significant controversy was raised surrounding the event and the source of its funding. Despite current WUCR President Nathaniel Hope and WUCR Treasurer Abby McGowan following proper procedure to request the appropriate funding from the Student Union Treasury, there arose a considerable amount of criticism for the event following its approval. With some arguing that the use of SU activities funds effectively “endorsed” the views of the speaker, it is important to acknowledge the role of events of this nature in fostering civil dialogue among university students. 

As Social Chair of WUCR, I believe that one should certainly be able to disagree with Ekpunobi’s point of view. However, attempting to suppress a commentator for peacefully expressing their views only serves to exacerbate partisan divisions within our student community. Moreover, I firmly believe that those who find themselves politically at odds with Ekpunobi should especially attend the event to improve their understanding of views they may not personally agree with. With social media and news networks often pushing us to stay within the confines of our preferred political echo chambers, having the chance to listen to an individual with beliefs different from our own is truly an invaluable opportunity. Whether you would be inclined to agree or disagree with Ekpunobi on policies or other issues, attending the event allows us to engage in a form of civic and social dialogue fundamental to being a politically well-versed American. 

Coming from a racial minority background myself as a Mexican American, I find Ekpunobi’s perspective as a Black conservative woman to be especially interesting for all students to hear. Constant partisan polarization in the recent decade has driven society to unfairly assume a person’s political allegiances or views simply based on their appearance or ethnicity. Although some may oppose her approach to breaking this mold of associating identity with ideology, Ekpunobi can provide valuable insight into a journey of personal political growth that has stemmed from her many lived experiences. Since stories of individuals shifting their personal views in response to arbitrary societal assumptions often go unheard, Ekpunobi’s speech will let us hear how one woman changed her political attitudes as a result of current social trends and expectations. 

As many members of the College Republicans and SU Treasury have stated, the Ekpunobi event is important for creating debate among the student body and fostering healthy discourse across political boundaries. From my perspective, giving Ekupunobi the opportunity to speak on campus is fundamental to supporting minority voices from diverse social and political backgrounds. Regardless of a student’s opinion on Ekupunobi’s rhetoric, I would strongly encourage them to attend in order to hear different ideological perspectives and experience a unique story of personal development. If you are interested, Amala Ekpunobi will be speaking next week at a time yet to be determined. To get your free ticket in advance, please use the registration link on the @washugop Instagram page’s bio. We will also announce the updated event date on the Instagram page in the near future.

Update 1:44 p.m., 12/3/2022: This article has been updated to reflect the postponement of the Amala Ekpunobi speaker event.

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