Earlier this month, the Blaze reported that leftist academic Frances Fox Piven was invited to speak at Messiah College, a Christian college in Grantham, Pennsylvania. The radical professor, who recently called bankers "thieves," "cannibals" and the "big problem" in a speech to Occupy Wall Street participants, addressed the Christian college's audience on Tuesday.
Prior to the event, some internal controversy did break out after the college removed posters from campus that advertised Piven's appearance. Officials said that advertisements were taken down because turnout was already expected to be high. Additionally, the college claimed that officials didn't want open-house guests seeing the advertisements and asking questions that staff members wouldn't be able to answer. Some students didn't buy into this mantra.
On Sunday, students who were frustrated over what they saw as Messiah's intention to downplay the event, wrote notices in chalk on the college's walkways and courtyards. Early in the day on Monday, college staff hosed them away.
Derek Petrella, a senior who studies politics and economics, said, "Messiah College is sponsoring the event and they're disassociating themselves from it." Ben Hemphill, a sophomore student who studies politics, mirrored this sentiment:
"The college has elected to bring in this controversial individual, and as far as we can see, it appears that they're now trying to back away from it. We're really trying to make people aware of this double standard."
Piven's long work in academia is what led Messiah to select her to address the college's annual American Democracy Lecture. The 79-year-old, who has caught heat for her making some disturbing economic proposals in the past, told the audience that she hasn't been to many Christian colleges before.
“I didn’t know what to expect. Was it going to be something like Bob Jones University, I wondered," she told a crowd of about 240 students and faculty. “You know, I’ve had a great day. I think I have a lot in common with a lot of people in this room," she continued.
PennLive.com reporter Elizabeth Gibson, though, explained that the audience didn't necessarily see the similarities:
...judging from the eye-rolling and snickering from many middle-aged attendees and some students, Piven’s audience didn’t agree that they shared common ground.
One student, Phil Strunk, asked Piven to explain past statements and calls to action. “It kind of sounded like a declaration of violence to me,” he said. Piven, of course, responded, "I believe in nonviolence." But then she continued, seemingly stretching the definition of "violence":
"I don’t think that breaking a glass window is the worst crime in the world. But I’m against it ... because people will say, ‘Violence, violence, violence,’ and ignore the violence on the street, of [people] losing their homes, being hungry."
Here are her comments about violence:
Below, see another portion of Piven's address to Messiah:
Piven predictably praised Occupy Wall Street (after all, she's been down there preaching to the choir already). Somewhat surprising, though, was her statement that the "tea party is an authentic movement." She did say that it isn't her movement and that she hopes it isn't the only important movement in contemporary American society, though. Below, see Piven's speech to the Wall Street protesters:
Following the address, Nick Kratz, a student writer for Messiah's "The Swinging Bridge" said that, though he doesn't necessarily agree with Piven, her viewpoints were important for the Christian community to hear. Kratz writes:
Although some at Messiah may feel uncomfortable with the message she brings,I will argue that that is ok. It is ok to feel uncomfortable because in those moments of discomfort and tension, wrestling with new ideas, that we grow as individuals. Her focus on the growing income gap and a lack of social justice in the United States is important for the people of this community to consider. How do we reconcile our beliefs in a system that leaves millions unemployed and promotes racial inequality? Regardless of your personal opinion on the issues that she raises, the conversation is important.
It seems there truly was a diversity of opinion among the college's student body.