1,000 U of C alums sign letter to protest invitation to Steve Bannon

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Lynda Daher, Assistant Director Student Emergency Response Systems at the U of C, shows a picture on her phone to prove she gave a letter to university officials that was signed by 1,000 alums who are against Steve Bannon speaking at the school. | Pete Grieve for the Sun-Times

A group of alumni are adding their voices to the growing chorus of protesters who don’t want former White House chief strategist and far-right firebrand Steve Bannon to speak at the University of Chicago.

Tuesday afternoon, several graduates tried to deliver a letter — signed by more than 1,000 alumni — to University President Robert Zimmer and Provost Daniel Diermeier calling for the school to rescind its invitation.

However, Brandon Kurzweg, the dean on call, told the group that they could not go inside the administration building to deliver the letter.

The alums asked to speak to his supervisor, Lynda Daher, who then offered to deliver copies to the president and provost’s offices and to the dean of students.

Daher, as promised, came back downstairs after she delivered the letter to show the group a picture proving that she delivered it.

“It seems that there’s a lot of effort to keep us from even going inside the building, let alone being able to actually hand it to the president,” said graduate Marijke Stoll. “Obviously he meets with alumni all the time, more when it comes to money than when it comes to voicing our concerns about the university. But we finally have come to an agreement, and basically they’re taking our letters up right now and delivering it to the offices of the provost and the president.”

Because Bannon was invited to a debate by a professor in the school’s prestigious Booth School of Business, the letter challenges administrators to think of the visit “in terms of a cost-benefit analysis.”

The cost of travel, food, lodging, an honorarium and increased security is money that could be more wisely spent, the letter contends.

Steve Bannon has accepted an invitation to speak at the University of Chicago, but no date has been set. | AP file photo

Steve Bannon has accepted an invitation to speak at the University of Chicago, but no date has been set. | AP file photo

“As alumni who are regularly asked to donate to the University for the benefit of its current students, we strongly feel there are better ways for our donations to be put to use,” it states.

The alumni letter also asks the school to release an itemized list of any costs incurred by the University related to Bannon’s visit.

Bannon has accepted the invitation but no date for his visit has been set.

Bannon has not spoken publicly since his ouster earlier this month from the Breitbart News Network as a result of his break with President Donald Trump.

Trump lashed out at Bannon for comments made in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which portrays the president as an undisciplined man-child who didn’t actually want to win the White House, and quotes Bannon as calling Donald Trump Jr.’s contact with a Russian lawyer “treasonous.”

The alumni action comes after several dozen students protested. Bannon’s invitation was first reported in the school’s newspaper, The Chicago Maroon.

Separately, more than 20 faculty members have also signed an open letter protesting the invitation.

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