Thanks to its long connection to famed linguist and author Noam Chomsky, a renowned speaker to worldwide audiences, the Civic Media Center was able to give UF’s ACCENT Speaker’s Bureau a chance to present professor Chomsky on the UF campus this Fall. In 2003, with ACCENT co-sponsorship, Chomsky spoke at the O’Connell Center to 6,000 people.
We hoped a similar event could be scheduled this year on Oct. 16. In June, ACCENT chair Daniel Landesberg was notified of this golden opportunity and initially seemed interested, but as the months went on, nothing was finalized. ACCENT stated that since they believed only 1,000 students would attend, the event should be in the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and on a different date, as Oct. 16 was not available there.
An information table was set up for two hours on the Plaza of Americas on Aug. 28 with a simple 2-by-3 sign that read: “Chomsky is Coming” — because he is.
Exactly where he’ll be speaking is the question. About 56 people left messages supporting Chomsky’s appearance, and a photo and email were sent to ACCENT demonstrating student interest.
Instead, a week later, ACCENT sent an email saying they would not be bringing Chomsky this year because our tabling had given advance publicity before the contract was signed.
This was six weeks before this major event, and more than 10 weeks since they were first made aware of it.
We think, as in 2003, there is a lot of interest in Chomsky, and it would be a shame to let the chance for a large audience to see him slip away.
We encourage ACCENT to change its decision and give this important figure a venue at which to speak.
This letter to the editor ran on page 7 on 9/13/2013 under the headline "Open call to ACCENT: Bring Noam Chomsky"