Critics are calling for Saint Louis University's law school to reverse its decision to have St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch present a lecture at an upcoming event at the school.
McCulloch is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Feb. 20 event entitled "The Thin Blue Line: Policing Post-Ferguson." Members of the Black Law Students Association have asked the school to rescind the invitation, pointing to legal and ethics challenges to how McCulloch handled the grand jury case surrounding the police shooting of Ferguson teen Michael Brown, t he Associated Press reports.
In a letter to the SLU community, SLU President Fred Pestello defended the school's decision to ask McCulloch to speak, saying that "a university is the place where we grapple with the most compelling questions of our time and rigorously pursue the truth."
The daylong academic symposium, which was organized by the student-run Saint Louis University Public Law review, will address the legal and societal challenges facing the justice system, and "differing viewpoints" will be represented by local and national speakers, Pestello said in the letter.
The lecture by McCulloch, which will be followed by a 25 minute Q&A session, will represent one of his first lengthy public statements since the grand jury's decision not to press charges against former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Brown shooting.
Pestello said he has heard from critics who say having McCulloch speak at the university runs contrary to the school's Jesuit values. "As a Jesuit university, our mission calls us to promote free, active and original intellectual inquiry," Pestello said.
"We should not be swayed from discussing difficult issues, especially those facing St. Louis," Pestello said. "Continued polarization and lack of cross-constituent dialogue will only serve to diminish us all."