In the wake of the administration canceling a controversial forum, the Fairfield Alliance and the departments of sociology and anthropology scheduled an open forum on Thursday night to address issues associated with the cancellation of the original forum, academic freedom censorship and the quality of life for students.

The original forum entitled, “Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples: An Educational Forum,” was abruptly cancelled after the administration learned that members of the Connecticut General Assembly were sent a letter of invitation to the event by the external sponsor, Love Makes a Family.

“What can we learn here? One thing that we can learn here is that homophobia still exists,” sad Bernie Kettle, coordinator of Love Makes a Family, Greater Fairfield County chapter, at the forum.

On Thursday, President von Arx expressed his concern of the forum in a campus wide e-mail saying that he made the decision with consultation from senior administrators after learning of the information.

“In canceling the event,” said Fr. von Arx in his notice, “it was my hope that the faculty of Fairfield would assist our students in putting together a forum on the important public issues of domestic partner legislation and same sex marriage that would provide the University community an opportunity to discuss the issues in a more appropriate academic setting.”

The forum was originally sponsored by the Fairfield University Alliance, an on-campus club, and by 11 off-campus organizations. The initial speakers and panelists were not present on Thursday night.

“The issue of balance is an interesting issue because the balance we are looking for is intellectual honesty,” said William Schimpf, the vice president of student services.

Dr. Joy Gordon, professor of philosophy, said that balance is no reason to cancel an event.

“We typically don’t have balance in any event,” said Gordon, “we have a speaker, and that speaker puts forth his thoughts.”

Gordon said that having balance in a controversial forum is like having a forum on civil rights and having a speaker opposed to civil rights present.

Although many students took advantage of the forum to voice that President von Arx’s was absent, Fr. von Arx showed up half way through the event.

“I know that many of you disagree with me deeply…But this was my decision,” said Fr. von Arx, who took the blame for the cancellation of the original event.

Fr. von Arx said he was sad that many students now felt alienated from the Fairfield community.

He hopes that he will continue this dialogue with faculty and students in the future, he said.

About 250 students, faculty and community members attended the event.

“These are the types of forums we need to educate us about what we don’t know,” said Blanchette.

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