Controversial Speaker Cancelled

Chris Nickels

Author, radio host, television personality and former hustler, Tariq Nasheed was scheduled as a guest-speaker for Sex Week, an annual event sponsored by the Colgate Activities Board (CAB).

After several students voiced complaints about his personal image and message, the event was ultimately cancelled. The decision to cancel Nasheed’s visit caused considerable controversy amongst students and initiated a small campaign by Mr. Nasheed himself to condemn the cancellation and the students who instigated it.

Co-chairs of CAB Annual Events junior Doug Collins and senior Karlene Aiken were responsible for managing the events of Sex Week. CAB Annual Events is a subsection of CAB that deals with the activities that occur on a yearly basis, like Colgate’s Welcome Back Week. Collins researched possible speakers for Sex Week during the spring 2006 semester and booked Nasheed in early September. It was only in recent weeks that students voiced objections to Nasheed’s possible presence on campus.

“A lot of people expressed some concerns about him being sexist,” Aiken said. “They were concerned about his MySpace page and the podcasts he put out.”

Apart from authoring the best-selling book, The Art of Mackin,’ and other titles, Nasheed hosts the Mack Lessons Radio Show, and frequently appears on television programs on channels such as BET and VH1. He has also made appearances on Conan O’Brien’s televison program and The Adam Carolla Show.

Nasheed’s books, lectures and television spots cover a variety of topics, but much of his work deals with making relationships – although, perhaps not quite in those words.

Nasheed was born in Detroit, lived in Alabama, and moved to Los Angeles in his adolescence. On the streets of L.A. he learned “the game” from older hustlers. Using his knowledge of hustling and information he gathered from psychology books, the ‘Flex King’ created dating techniques, which he dubbed “G.I.C.2.,” or “game, intelligence and common sense squared.” Nasheed also broadcasts podcasts on topics such as “Turning Hoes Into Housewives” and “Black Women and Snitching.”

Once several students had voiced their objections to Nasheed, CAB held a meeting to discuss the students’ objections with them. The meeting was mediated by Associate Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Dr. Shelly Lear, with members of the Center for Leadership for Student Involvement (CLSI) in attendance. Around 20 students came to the meeting to voice their opinions on Nasheed.

“It was really intense, at least from our perspective,” Collins said. “A lot of very valid concerns were brought up.”

In the end, the CAB Executive Board voted to cancel the event as it was originally planned. The decision resulted in some serious backlash by Nasheed, who railed against Colgate’s women’s organizations on his podcasts. Nasheed incorrectly perceived that Colgate’s black women had caused the cancellation.

“The women’s groups were saying that I was racist. They went to the board of directors and said that I was racist, and they said that I was sexist, and they said that I was going to reinforce negative stereotypes about black people,” Nasheed said, in one of two 30-minute broadcasts that he produced specifically about Colgate. “It’s bulls—, and they know it’s bulls—, and my audience knows that it’s bulls—.”

Nasheed continued to slam women’s groups.

“Most colleges around the country are run by feminist organizations; they have a strong influence in colleges. Most of the s— they say is garbage, and they can give out all kinds of unsubstantiated lies, because guys are afraid to challenge them…A lot of men have to deal with these feminist groups making it damn near illegal to be a man in college.”

In addition to charging feminists with the cancellation of the event, he urged his listeners to call and email the university with complaints. He gave out the number to CLSI’s office on the air.

While CAB was initially open to having Nasheed address the controversy directly on Colgate’s campus, his podcasts and commentary changed their minds.

“After the vote happened, we entertained the option of bringing him here to talk about this. We discussed it more and it just became evident that it would not be productive,” Collins said.

In addition, Nasheed’s claims about the CAB meeting, Aiken said, were inaccurate. “There were men and there were women, and there black people and there were white people, and there were all different people, and it was all individual,” Aiken said. “As far as I know, none of them came to represent a specific group. It was individuals expressing concerns about how they were offended by Tariq Nasheed’s personal image.”

Despite the fact that Nasheed is not coming to campus to speak, he will still get paid – as was stipulated in his contract. The cost, about $5,700, will come out of CAB funds.

Assistant Director of CLSI, Julie DiTrapano is the advisor to CAB and was present at the meeting. She stressed the success of Sex Week in spite of the controversy, looking to the various sex education and sex themed events that have occurred the past week.

“I think there were definitely some things that students really enjoyed,” she said.

DiTrapano also clarified CAB’s position.

“CAB’s intentions were never to offend or hurt or insult. The miscommunications really were a challenge to the truth about what was going on with the event. We were trying, and are trying, to make sure that the truth is out there, not just all of these misconceptions and miscommunications.”