‘Security issues’ push controversial guest off campus

Security issues push controversial guest off campus

Read more coverage on Wright’s scheduled visit.

An event honoring Sen. Barack Obama’s, D-Ill., pastor will be moved off campus because of security concerns, and university officials will not give details.

Chancellor Victor Boschini said security on campus is a priority but did not elaborate on the nature of the concerns.

“Security issues have become the No. 1 issue for college and university presidents in America,” Boschini said in an e-mail. “Threats to a safe and secure campus end up eroding everything we are trying to accomplish in higher education. Therefore, when concerns arise in this area I take them very seriously.”

The Brite Divinity School, an independent institution located on campus, issued a statement Monday affirming its decision to give an award to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright at a banquet March 29 despite recent media reports on the pastor’s controversial remarks.

According to a university statement, the executive committee of TCU’s board of trustees decided Wednesday to move Brite’s Black Church Summit events off campus in response to security issues noted by TCU Police and the Fort Worth Police Department.

TCU Police Chief Steve McGee declined to comment on the security issues cited in the statement.

Capt. Billy Cordell of the Fort Worth Police Department said he learned about the venue change from TCU Police and did not know any details about the security concerns.

“I do not have sufficient information to say anything concrete about it,” Cordell said.

Tracy Syler-Jones, associate vice chancellor for marketing and communication, declined to elaborate on the statement.

Brite leaders agreed with the decision, and the divinity school will announce the new of the location of the event, according to the statement.

Newell Williams, president of Brite, could not be reached for comment.

J. Luther King Jr., chairman of the TCU board of trustees, said controversial opinions should be freely expressed at the university, but the board’s primary concern is the security of students, faculty and staff, according to the statement.

King did not return calls Wednesday night seeking comment on the statement.

The Rev. Brad Braxton, an ordained Baptist minister who will deliver the keynote address at the banquet, said late Wednesday he had not been informed about TCU’s decision to move the event off campus. Braxton, a professor at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School, said he plans to attend the event regardless of the change in location.

Wright has stirred a nationwide debate about race following the release of video clips of sermons in which he accused the U.S. government of sponsoring terrorism that led to the Sept. 11 attacks and called on blacks to condemn the United States for alleged racism.

Braxton said Wright’s appearance at the Brite event should be seen not as a problem but as an opportunity to promote discussion that transcends racial lines. He said a lack of understanding of the black religious tradition is part of the missing context that has led to the misrepresentation of Wright’s words.

“This notion that raising a serious critique is unpatriotic, separatist and hateful is inaccurate, and it does not do justice to the rich protest tradition of the black church and the larger tradition of protest in the United States,” he said.

Braxton said the purpose of the summit is to address issues within the black church.