After the University of Maryland endured a national backlash for canceling a showing of American Sniper, the school’s College Republicans and College Democrats have teamed up to put the movie back on the school event calendar.
The screening will be held next Monday, May 4, and will be followed by a panel discussion on the themes of the film and the controversy it has caused.
“I am proud of our College Republicans and College Democrats for working together on the screening and panel discussion of American Sniper,” said university president Wallace Loh in a statement. “Working together, despite differences in philosophy and doctrine, is a laudable example for us all.”
The original screening, planned by the school’s Student Entertainment Events group, was postponed indefinitely a week ago following complaints from the Muslim Student Association. The group started a petition online which slammed the film as “war propaganda guised as art” that “reveals a not-so-discreet Islamaphobic, violent, and racist nationalist ideology.” (RELATED: Yet Another School Is Canceling American Sniper)
Loh’s statement described Student Entertainment Events as an independent student group (though it actually has close ties with the student government), and he complained that Maryland had been unfairly targeted by accusations of giving in to extremists.
“[The media] reported that UMD ‘cancelled’ the movie. That UMD failed to uphold the basic right of freedom of expression. That UMD caved-in to a small number of students,” said Loh. “We were deluged by phone calls and messages from across the country, almost unanimously outraged by the cancellation or postponement. Members of our faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as members of our State’s legislature, voiced their dismay with UMD’s abridgment of this constitutional right.”
Loh said that the entire event served as a “teachable moment” for the university.