Convicted murderer unsafe for campus community

Raymond Luc Levasseur was the leader of the Marxist revolutionary group United Freedom Front, which plotted a series of nine bank robberies and at least 20 bombings along the East Coast between the years 1976 and 1984. The group attempted to kill two Massachusetts state troopers and succeeded in killing a New Jersey state trooper. The group’s members, including Levasseur, were convicted of conspiracy, murder and attempted murder, among other charges. Levasseur was released from his 18-year prison sentence in 2004.

This is not a man that many people would want to be in close quarters with, especially at a place where people are supposed to feel safe: a college campus. Yet, some professors at the University of Massachusetts not only want this convict on their campus but also want him to speak directly to their students.

Levasseur was scheduled to speak at the Amherst Libraries’ fifth annual Colloquium on Social Change in order to represent the social unrest of the late 1960s, but his speech was canceled after Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick had a “strong reaction” to the matter. The president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, Rick Brown, said school officials should be “ashamed” to grant a forum to him.

“He shouldn’t be allowed to talk to any students,” Brown said to “Why give this man any credibility to speak in an academic environment? He has no remorse, and who knows if he’s out to recruit.”

It was a small group of faculty members who decided to invite Levasseur to the UMass campus, and the university is clear in showing its lack of support. However, the university has anti-censorship rules, and while the administration does not deem his speaking appropriate, academic freedom must prevail.

Not only is the invitation extended to Levasseur inappropriate, but it is also unsafe. He could have plans to murder, rob or even bomb students or buildings at the university. He’s done all of these things before. Not only that but he could have an ulterior motive, not to educate, but to persuade students to follow his actions or views. This could cause a revolt against any sort of formal administration, which makes it a matter of security.

Would the university allow Osama bin Laden to speak? He was a bomber as well. What about the Unabomber? I bet a lot of people would find what he has to say interesting, but I guarantee that he would never be allowed on a college campus.

Levasseur is no different than any other terrorist criminal. He is a man of no repentance, no regret and quite possibly has concealed plans to attempt to corrupt college students into his lifestyle.

Kait Staffieri is a sophomore psychology major from Dallas.