The purpose of this statement is to correct some misinformation that’s been floating around in regards to a speaker that talked to a small group of students at Calvin College back in late April.
The College Republicans—a recognized student-run organization at Calvin College—invited Michael Peroutka, a Maryland lawyer who once held a position in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and who is the founder of the Institute on the Constitution (IOTC). While the content of Peroutka’s talk on April 23, 2014, was not a surprise to the student leaders who invited him to campus, some of his background was, and the way he recounted his time at Calvin via social media was inaccurate and misleading.
The Student Life Committee addressed these concerns with the student organization’s president, adviser and other members of the club a few weeks after the event. The club’s president admitted that she had not done her proper homework on Peroutka and that the decision to bring him in was made at the last minute. She said they had a speaker lined up for that date, but he ran into a scheduling conflict, dropped out, leaving the group with a short window to find a speaker.
The club president regrets not doing enough research on Peroutka before inviting him to speak, and her faculty adviser also assumes responsibility for a lack of oversight related to this particular situation.
During the discussion, which included members of the Student Life Committee and students from the College Republicans who attended Peroutka’s talk, it was clear that the students were not as well versed on the speaker’s full background as they should have been prior to extending the invitation. It was also clear that photos that were taken at the event have been used in ways that misrepresented Calvin College. The College Republicans have since contacted Michael Peroutka and have asked him to remove misleading information regarding his time at Calvin. Most notably, it is important to note that Calvin College has no affiliation whatsoever with the American Club, a claim that was originally made on the IOTC Facebook page. The photo used was taken at Mr. Peroutka’s talk at Calvin and then misused to make a claim that is simply not true.
The Student Life Committee and the club’s faculty adviser regret that the proper vetting of this speaker did not take place. As the 2014-2015 academic year approaches, committee members are committed to improving communication lines between the student leaders, faculty advisers and themselves to prevent this kind of mistake from happening again.
It is important to close this correction of misinformation by reemphasizing the college’s commitment to the FEN document. This commitment is also clearly laid out in the college’s latest five-year strategic plan that devotes one of its six themes to Strengthening Calvin’s Pursuit of Diversity and Inclusion.