The protestors are gone, news crews have moved on, and life at SUNY Brockport is back to normal. Life was certainly in a not-so-normal time when Brockport held an extremely controversial event where convicted murderer Jalil Muntaqim spoke to Brockport students.
Many students and other faculty members joined the Zoom meeting to listen to Muntaqim speak. Journalism Professor Carvin Eison Journalism was one of those people.
Eison pointed out a glaring issue that he noticed during the event.
“I’m not going to say that he was a coward, but everyone was waiting to hear something about the core controversy that animated all the protestors and school’s decision not to give him money. Muntaqim came up to the line, maybe twice, but he never addressed it. He was found guilty of felony murder so that’s on his record. I thought he could’ve handled that better”, said Eison.
Eison mentioned a specific part of Muntaqim’s speech that he really liked a lot.
“Muntaqim said a range of things that on the surface were not bad things to say. He talked about self-help and taking responsibility for your life. He was a member of the Black Panther party which is very complicated as history defines it. As an 18-year-old, I can see how he can get himself caught in all that stuff. I was reading a book when I was around his age that he referenced called ‘Soledad Brother’ by George Jackson and I almost got into serious trouble for that because I started to identify with someone who was in prison,” said Eison.
Eison also said he did not like the questions that were asked to Muntaqim.
“I really did not like how the questions were controlled. They knew already what questions what they were going to answer. They know you must address the elephant in the room. Some people would think he’s taking the coward’s way out,” said Eison.
While Brockport had negative feedback from Muntaqim speaking, Eison thought this event was a great moment.
“I thought it was a great moment for the college and in the end will have long-standing positive feedback. I was here for Brockport’s open house day and there were hundreds of people here. They would’ve heard about the event, but it didn’t sway the people from coming here. The entire event put Brockport on the map,” said Eison.
Brockport freshman John Lutz also shared his thoughts about the event.
“I thought the speech was an empty letdown considering how controversial it became. Considering there is 6,000 students on campus, there was potential for a dangerous situation,” said Lutz. “I felt like it was shameful that Brockport continued to carry out the event when death threats were spread. Thankfully, nothing ended up happening besides the protests, but I felt like the speech did not have enough unique insight or solutions to justify its existence, amid all the safety concerns”.
With the event being over with, the protestors have left Brockport’s campus. Life at Brockport is back to normal.