Seton Hall University has disinvited controversial American radio personality Sid Rosenberg from a 77 WABC Town Hall planned for March 10 following a student-led social media campaign to cancel Rosenberg’s appearance due to racist public statements from over a decade ago.
Initially, Rosenberg was scheduled to talk to the University community with co-host Juliet Huddy about the upcoming 2020 election. The event will still occur as scheduled, but Rosenberg will not make an appearance.
Sophomore diplomacy and international relations major and Student Government Association (SGA) senator Stefan Ferreira posted a graphic to his personal SGA-aimed Instagram account @stefan.setonhall on Feb. 26. The post requested that the University disinvite Rosenberg.
The graphic cited Rosenberg’s past statements saying “f------ play tennis,” using a slur that typically refers to gay men, and that American professional tennis player Venus Williams is an “animal,” claiming that she and her sister Serena Williams had better odds at posing nude for National Geographic than Playboy magazine. Furthermore, Rosenberg said that the United States women’s national soccer team were “a bunch of juiced up dykes.”
Aside from the comments cited in Ferreria’s graphic, mediamatters.org reported that in 2004 Rosenberg referred to Palestinians as “stinking animals” and said, “they ought to drop the bomb right there, kill ‘em all right now.” Following the remarks, MSNBC offered an apology for Rosenberg’s statements. The transcript of Nov. 12’s edition of MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning can be found at mediamatters.org
Additionally, in 2005, Rosenberg made insensitive remarks about pop singer Kylie Minogue, who had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. According to a New York Post article, he said “she won’t look so pretty when she’s bald with one [breast].” After this comment, he was terminated from his position at Imus in the Morning.
After being informed about the event, Ferreira vetted the speakers online and discovered Rosenberg’s extensive history of bigoted public statements. Once Ferreira confirmed the quotes, he posted the graphic to his Instagram.
“It instantly blew up,” Ferreira said. “I was proud to see the passion other students had about disinviting Sid Rosenberg to campus.”
“Seton Hall needs to research more thoroughly into who they invite to our campus,” Ferreira said. “This is not an issue of free speech; this is an issue of allowing a racist and homophobic individual on campus.”
Following Ferreira’s post, the SGA Executive Committee on Feb. 27 reached out to the administration regarding Rosenberg’s appearance on campus. SGA’s public memo said that the University was aware of student concerns and “that such an offensive, disrespectful and harmful voice has no place on our campus.”
On March 1, Ferreira posted to Instagram to inform students that the University had canceled Rosenberg’s appearance.
Seton Hall University and Sid Rosenberg did not respond to requests for comment.
SGA President Rishi Shah said he believed it was important to remove Rosenberg as a speaker. Shah said he is a strong advocate for free speech and promotes the free exchange of ideas with people who have disparate opinions, however, “when we bring speakers with a history of hate and intolerance, it takes away from the idea of an engaging conversation and it promotes and justifies their behavior.”
Thomas Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.