EDMOND, Okla. — The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) has reinstated a lecture with apologist Ken Ham following an initial cancellation, of which the student body president explained that he had been “bullied” by what he called a “very vocal group” that attempted to keep Ham from speaking on campus.
“I’m thrilled my talk at UCO is back on again,” Ham said in a statement. “UCO officials have definitely heard from many concerned state legislators, several local residents and alumni about the denial of our right to free speech.”
“Furthermore, by moving my talk from the evening to the afternoon, we now have the opportunity to reach even more UCO students during the school day. UCO is a commuter campus, and many of its students might not have been able to attend in the evening,” he joyed.
As previously reported, Ham, who leads Answers in Genesis and its Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, was scheduled to appear at the university’s Constitution Hall on March 5 to speak on “Genesis and the State of the Culture.” The appearance was reportedly a request of one of the student organizations, and the UCO student association helped to work out a contract as a sponsor.
However, according to Student Body President Stockton Duvall, some students expressed objection to Ham’s upcoming talk at the university.
“Many did this respectfully, while some did not,” he wrote in an explanatory letter earlier this month.
The student association had purposed to continue with the event anyway, and Duvall said that Answers in Genesis was advised of the matter “in hopes that the presentation could take them into consideration.”
But, “[a]s this dialogue continued, the organization we partnered with chose to end the partnership on the Ken Ham event,” Duvall outlined. “I take responsibility that their decision was made, in part, due to a lack of communication on my part.”
“At that point, the UCOSA executive board felt it was best not to move forward with the event due to uncertainty of what could happen at the event,” he explained, noting that the decision came down to him and that he was not able to personally be in attendance.
However, Duvall also noted that there was a campus group that attempted to push him into cancelling Ham.
“I want to be very clear on this,” he wrote. “There have been members of our campus who have tried to bully me in making my decision. While none these examples have involved any members of administration, there is definitely something that must be done to address this issue. I am not the first person to be personally attacked by a very vocal group on campus that has little tolerance for opposing viewpoints.”
“The culture of allowing this group to bully both individual students and organizations on our campus ends now,” Duvall continued. “I will not allow any more intimidation to be directed toward our campus community from this point forward.”
According to Answers in Genesis, following the incident, UCO President Don Betz personally re-invited Ham to give his lecture at the university on the exact same date when it was to be originally presented. The new contract was signed on Thursday.
Joining Ham at 3:00 p.m. will be colleague Dr. Georgia Purdom, who will give a talk on “Genetics and the Bible,” and the two will also take questions from the audience.
Ham will additionally speak at nearby Fairview Baptist Church at 6:30 p.m. in a message entitled “How Science Confirms the Bible.” Both events are free and open to the public.