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Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley had the last laugh when he provided proof that Virginia Tech first invited him to give a lecture, then dis-invited him because of his conservative beliefs.
“Last month I was invited by a professor to speak at Virginia Tech in the fall,” Riley wrote in Monday’s column. “Last week, the same professor reluctantly rescinded the invitation, citing concerns from his department head and other faculty members that my writings on race in The Wall Street Journal would spark protests.”
In a statement released Wednesday, Dr. Robert T. Sumichrast, dean of the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech, denied that Riley had ever been invited to speak.
“To clarify what has been reported, no invitation was ever extended to Jason Riley,” he said in the statement, according to Mediaite. “A faculty member did reach out to Mr. Riley to inquire of his interest in speaking at Virginia Tech … This faculty member does not represent the committee’s voice and this faculty member did not extend an invitation nor rescind an invitation.”
This prompted Riley to post on Twitter a photo of the email invitation he received from a professor. He highlighted this passage in the email: “My purpose in writing to you is to invite you to give the fall 2016 lecture in Blacksburg.”
— Jason Riley (@jasonrileywsj) May 4, 2016
Virginia Tech president Tim Sands entered the fray Thursday to blame it all on a scheduling mishap.
He apologized to Riley for an “error in judgment” and announced that Dean Sumichrast had invited the columnist to speak at the school.
For real this time.
“As the president of Virginia Tech, I want to share with you our commitment to free speech and civil discourse,” Sand said in a statement. “We continue to welcome speakers to campus with diverse and controversial opinions that help us test our assumptions and broaden our perspectives.”
“As you may have heard, a faculty committee charged with making a recommendation for a Fall 2016 speaker made a selection from a pool of potential speakers and that invitation was accepted,” he added. “We learned subsequently that a faculty member, without the knowledge of the committee or the authority to do so, had extended an invitation to speak in that same slot to Jason Riley.”
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