IWU Reacts To Davis Town Hall Refusal | WGLT

IWU Reacts To Davis Town Hall Refusal

Apr 18, 2017

IWU's Ames Library is shown behind a university gateway
Credit Staff

Faculty and students at Illinois Wesleyan University are expressing disappointment 13th District Congressman Rodney Davis has decided to pass on an invitation to hold an open event on campus.

Professor of Philosophy Emily Kelahan, said the Taylorville Republican's office countered with an offer to meet with 10 to 15 campus members and no media. She said IWU was even willing to hold a campus event with no media present.

"There was a robust discussion about whether or not it was appropriate to agree to no media. A lot of the members of our community were not comfortable with that. So, I think we saw ourselves as being really open, honest brokers looking to make a compromise, and it was disappointing he refused that compromise," Kelahan said.

Community members crowd IWU's Westbrook Auditorium for a town hall meeting March 24 organized by U. S. Senator Dick Durbin
Credit Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

In a news release, members of the IWU community acknowledge Davis' preference to hold small events that don't include grandstanding or screaming. Kelahan said IWU's recent hosting of a Dick Durbin town hall included neither, plus she said events with the former President of Mexico and former Prime Minister of Norway were held with constructive dialouge and in an atmosphere of mutual respect and civility.

"I think that we afford him an opportunity to engage that is unique and special," said Kelahan. Illinois Wesleyan's Office of Communications released a statement, saying, "The statement sent to media by concerned faculty speaks for itself in representing their viewpoint. Like any university, individuals on our campus represent a wide range of opinions."

Davis' office did not respond to a GLT News request for comment.

Davis will be in Towanda Wednesday as he tours historic Route 66. Kelahan said Davis has every right to meet with as many constituents as he can, but that he's "missing a special opportunity at IWU."

Kelahan said a standing invitation remains for Davis to engage with students and faculty anytime classes are in session and Congress is not.

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Editor's Note: This story was updated on April 19, to reflect input from the IWU Office of Communications.