The Rice Thresher, April 9, 2014
Fed-Soc President Blake Delaplane said his club invited Murray to speak to the Rice community to encourage further dialogue regarding class structures in America on campus.
“Our organization’s invitation to Dr. Murray is not an endorsement,” Delaplane, a Duncan College junior, said. “Additionally, we strongly believe that [the] university setting is ideal for hearing and challenging speakers like Dr. Murray where students in support and opposition can exercise their free speech.”
Black Student Association President Jackie Mutai, the primary organizer of the student protest, said she was thankful student organizations came together to publicize and organize the protest.
Representatives from BSA, the Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice, the Women’s Resource Center and the Asian Pacific American Student Alliance began protesting at 4:30 p.m. in front of Herring Hall. Faculty members were also in attendance. BSA member Brianne Rodgers said she chose to protest against Murray because of his racist and sexist views.
HACER’s incoming president Crystal Olalde said HACER wanted to take this event as an opportunity for the Hispanic minority to speak out and show its presence.
“We do not tolerate being undermined,” Olalde, a Martel College junior, said. “I’m excited to see a lot of faces out here, and hopefully Charles Murray can see what Rice is about.”
Students held signs with slogans including “Correlation does not equal causation” and continued with chants such as “pseudoscience” and “not an anomaly” inside Herring Hall until Murray approached the microphone.
Murray spoke for a few minutes at the beginning of his talk regarding many people’s perception of him as racist and sexist.
After speaking for a half hour, Murray opened the floor to questions. Several students asked Murray to clarify why he believes individuals’ productivity diminishes when marriage stops being the primary form of societal organization. In a private interview, Murray said his opinion on the impact of the feminist revolution on the demoralization of men.
“I am not saying that the feminist revolution should not have occurred,” Murray said. “A collateral side effect that could not have been avoided involves the demoralization of working-class whites. That does not mean that, in order to cure the demoralization, women should stay in the kitchen and not go out and work.”
According to Murray, demoralization is contributing to working-class white men performing less community service, spending less time with family and being less involved in religion than they have been in the past. He said an increasing number of men are turning to sleep and television in their leisure time.
Murray said he attributed the decline of marriage to three benefits of marriage that have been lost: psychological benefits, sexual benefits and community status.
According to Murray, a man’s psychological self-esteem is connected to his family’s well-being. For example, if the family continues to proceed almost as well without the man’s presence, then his sense of importance to that family is impacted negatively.
Murray discussed his new book, Coming Apart, and the ideas his opinions about class distinctions in America.
Rodgers said after the event that, on the surface, Murray’s statements do not sound incendiary, but that a deeper analysis reveals the assumptions behind his argument.
Delaplane said the event was a success, and he was happy to see students from organizations across campus engaging in the discussion.
“There were some disruptions in an otherwise respectful crowd,” Delaplane said. “The discussion provided by the Rice Federalist Society and the Baker Institute Student Forum uniquely acted as a public forum in which dissenting opinions to Dr. Murray’s were voiced clearly in a professional intellectual environment.”
BISF President Nathan Joo said the mission of the BISF is to facilitate policy dialogue from a wide range of perspectives and to advance a forum for students, faculty and scholars.
“We believe in open, transparent and critical dialogue,” Joo, a Will Rice College junior, said. “BISF thanks all students for their participation and insightful questions and comments.”