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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

The ACCENT speakers have already been chosen, but if I could go back in time and have a conversation with someone from ACCENT Speakers Bureau, I imagine it would sound a lot like this:

So, you get to choose the ACCENT speaker? That’s cool. Seems like a big responsibility. You wouldn’t want to mess that up. 

You’re thinking of contacting Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle? Why?

Yeah, I love the First Amendment, too. But don’t you think that saying it’s their “First Amendment right” to speak here is a little weird? We get it. No one is trying to argue otherwise.

Oh, you want them to speak here because it provides the Student Body with a variety of viewpoints?  Cool, let’s keep that energy and invite some Democrats, too. If you want different political opinions shared, let’s get someone working for Elizabeth Warren or Stacey Abrams here. 

Oh, you think that Hasan Minhaj speaking earlier this year counts as different views being shared? Well, kind of, but not really. One is a politician and the other is a comedian, and they will be received with that in mind. Minhaj wasn’t here to promote anyone or support a specific platform. So no, it’s not a fair range of views.

Speaking of supporting a platform, you’re paying them $50,000. Isn’t that practically making a direct campaign donation to Donald Trump? Your money is going to the vice president of the Trump Organization and the person in charge of his 2020 campaign. It only costs so much to get here from Mar-a-Lago. Do you really think the rest of that money is going to go to their utility bill?

If you want to provide the community with a conservative viewpoint, you can. I would argue that it would make more sense to spend time and money on someone that most people would be interested in hearing from. But, you’re in charge, so hatemonger it is! What about Judge Jeanine Pirro or Sean Hannity? Or a B-list version of that? Why don’t you pick a conservative that isn’t working for a president facing an impeachment inquiry?

Also, you keep bringing up that you want a controversial speaker. I think it’s weird to want to spark something that just divides students. Oh, you call that fostering a rigorous discussion? Baby, that’s just agitating political differences that will never change and causing reactions like protests that could lead to violence. Who does that benefit?  

The topics they’ll likely discuss are not things people are just going to change their minds about. This isn’t a discussion about the pros and cons of pineapples on pizza. It’s an hour of highly polarized views on immigration policy, which makes it hard to imagine people leaving feeling differently than they did before.

If you want someone to facilitate a reasonable political discussion, then find a moderate and fair speaker. If you just want someone controversial, might I suggest Shane Dawson?  

Just make sure you really think this through before going with it because it seems like a politically charged decision. I know you like those two idiots, but you don’t work for them, you work for the UF Student Body. If the point is to create a lot of buzz or anger, then you win. But if the point is to create reasonable or impactful discussion, try again. If the point is to pick someone that people will come to see, you missed by a mile. 

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In the case that you have no other options, don’t forget that John Mulaney still owes us one. Maybe you should give him our money instead.

Maggie Spilane is a UF telecommunications senior.

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