SALEM — Travel problems caused a controversial anti-war activist to cancel his speaking engagement at Salem State University yesterday.
A number of SSU student veterans had spoken out in opposition to Mike Prysner’s visit to campus, scheduled as part of the university’s Peace and Social Justice Week events. Prysner, a veteran and anti-war activist, is co-founder of March Forward! — an organization of veterans and active-duty service members opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
SSU spokesperson Karen Cady said yesterday that the university did not cancel Prysner’s visit. He chose to cancel the engagement because of “travel difficulties,” she said.
“I did understand that there were some individuals (on campus) that were in disagreement with Mr. Prysner’s positions on a few things,” Cady said. “The mission of the university is to provide a safe place for differences of opinion, civil discourse and healthy debate. We certainly don’t shy away from speakers that have different points of view. ... Basically, that’s what an education is all about.”
Prysner’s Twitter profile describes him as an “Iraq war veteran, anti-war activist, anti-imperialist and socialist.”
After Prysner’s cancellation, Donald Schindler, one of the faculty in SSU’s philosophy department, gave a talk on the Vietnam War and its parallels to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
SSU has approximately 220 student veterans, out of a student body of roughly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students.
Peace and Social Justice Week events are organized by SSU Student Life and the campus center, Cady said.
The website for March Forward! describes it as an organization “against the Iraq and Afghanistan war(s) while fighting for social and economic justice at home — including the struggle against racism and all forms of discrimination and bigotry.”
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.