Anger Over Poem and Apology at Sonoma State

June 9, 2017

Faculty members at Sonoma State University have written a letter to President Judy Sakaki, objecting to her apology for a poem that a student read at commencement, The Press Democrat reported. The poem was about violence faced by black people and included both criticism of President Trump and the use of expletives. Some parents and others objected to the poem and wrote to Sakaki. She apologized to them and called the reading of the poem at commencement "a mistake."

The faculty letter says that Sakaki's apology undercuts the principles of free expression. “Such public expression is a key role of universities in a democracy, and we found that the use of a certain profanity and the subject matter, including police violence on communities of color, did not exceed the boundaries of safe expression, nor constitute ‘hate speech’ as accused by one of a few critics,” the letter said.

Sakaki has declined to comment on the poem or her apology.

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