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Panel participation

Letter to the Editor | Monday, May 1, 2006

As the Acting Chair of Film, Television, and Theatre during Spring semester last year, I need to set the record straight about Bishop D’Arcy’s statement, as reported in The Observer, that his invitation to participate in the panel discussion about “The Vagina Monologues” was “withdrawn at the last minute.” That might make for a great story, but this isn’t what occurred. He is correct in asserting that he and the diocese were notified well in advance about the events and encouraged to have a representative on the panel. We received no response to this invitation. Given that lack of response, we then proceeded to organize a panel discussion that included a variety of different perspectives on “The Vagina Monologues.” Once we had formalized that panel, we had posters printed and information about the events that day was widely circulated in the local media.

Someone claiming to “represent” Bishop D’Arcy appeared immediately before the panel began and asked to be added to the panel. The decision not to include this person about whom we knew nothing, who appeared from out of nowhere at such a late date, does not constitute withdrawing our invitation at the last minute. If this person was indeed his representative, why did she appear at the last minute? Given that response to our invitation, his comment, “Who was constricting academic freedom that time?” is especially baffling. If Bishop D’Arcy would like to participate in any future panel discussions we will, of course, welcome him warmly because such invitations are extended in good faith, in hopes of making for the most productive exchange of ideas. We hope that in the future, if he is indeed eager to take part part in such panels, that he might make his intentions known to us in advance of the event so we can plan accordingly.

Jim CollinsprofessorFilm, Television and TheatreApril 27