Scholarship, it seems, is the best revenge. While most people might just stew about having their speech canceled by a university president, maverick filmmaker Michael Moore has decided to throw some money at the problem.
On Wednesday, the outspoken documentarian announced the establishment of the Michael Moore Freedom of Speech Scholarship at Cal State San Marcos, the same school that canceled a speech by the Oscar-winning director last year when the school’s president decided he was too “political.”
“I hope this scholarship will encourage students to show courage and stand up for what they believe in”, Moore said in a statement. “It’s not easy to take on the establishment, but when students do so for the right reasons, they should be rewarded.”
The two $2,500 awards will be distributed annually for a minimum of four years and are specifically earmarked for two students “who have done the most to fight for issues of student rights by standing up to the administration of Cal State San Marcos.” The first scholarships will be awarded during the 2005-2006 academic year. Interested students with a minimum 2.5 GPA must fill out an application, which can be found on Moore’s Web site, produce three references and write a letter to Moore explaining why they deserve the scholarship and what they’ve done to take a stand. The deadline is May 11, and winners will be announced in June.
“At a time when the media and politicians have shown a lack of courage, we should look to America’s universities and America’s young people to show us how patriotic dissent is,” Moore said. “The University should not be a place for fear, but a place for bravery, free thought and a little bit of rebellion.”
Moore said he decided to establish the scholarship after Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes announced her decision on September 13, 2004 to rescind an invitation for him to speak on campus during his 2004 Slacker Uprising Tour. Haynes said at the time that the cancellation was due to a prohibition on the school spending state money to host a partisan political event and the lack of time to find a second speaker to balance Moore’s views.
In response, students raised money to hold a 10,000 person rally at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in October, which featured appearances from folk singer Joan Baez and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello performing solo as the Nightwatchman.
A university spokesperson told The Associated Press that Haynes had no comment on the scholarship. “Mr. Moore has the right to do whatever he wishes to do, and we’re glad to see another scholarship available to students who go to our school,” the spokesperson said.