The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Miller time: Larry Miller meets with protesters to discuss concerns over campus speech

Larry H. Miller said he is fearful for the harm that pulling the gay romance film “Brokeback Mountain” from his theatres may have caused the homosexual community.

“The big single thing I learned today is that there is a real physical and emotional threat to these people, that they live with every day and to the extent I added to that, I’m concerned about,” Miller said.

Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz, a local chain of movie theatres and several car dealerships, met on-campus with a small group of faculty, students and administrators Thursday. Miller discussed concerns that arose when a student began an online petition to block his upcoming keynote speech for the Discover U days. The petition has since gained more than 1,500 online signatures.

The meeting, which was closed to the press, ended in loud applause after what petition leaders called a “positive dialogue.”

Miller wouldn’t say whether he regrets pulling the film from his theaters.

“How do we reconcile my concern for their well-being, which is very real, with my rights to express myself?” he said. “I do absolutely support their rights to feel safe, to express their opinions and so on (and) to the extent that anything I’ve done would take that away, then I’ve got to make some course corrections.”

Kt Farley, a U student and staff member who started the petition, said she was happy with what occurred in the meeting, even though Miller is still coming to speak on campus.

“We weren’t really in search of a resolution, we were more in search of mutual understanding and fostering a dialogue-in that way it was a very successful meeting,” she said.

Farley said Miller was very warm and friendly with the students.

“Larry Miller was a great listener,” she said. “It changed our assumptions about Larry Miller and I’m sure it changed some of Larry Miller’s assumptions about (LGBT) people.”

Charles Milne, coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Campus Resource Center, said he was particularly pleased with Miller’s newfound awareness of the constant discrimination that LGBT students face.

“He’s going to be able to walk away with a greater understanding of what we deal with on a daily basis,” he said.

Administrators present were also happy with the understanding Miller was able to achieve with the students.

Coralie Alder, chairwoman of the Discover U Days Committee, said she hopes the controversy surrounding Miller’s visit does not overshadow the rest of the Discover U Days events.

Farley said that although the results of the meeting were positive, she still plans on protesting today during Miller’s speech.

“Oh yeah, we’re still going to protest,” she said. “People will be listening respectfully, but we’ll be wearing cowboy hats to signify we’re here.”

Farley said she hopes the U administration is more mindful of the LGBT community in the future.

“The university administration has become much more aware of the (LGBT) community on campus,” she said. “And the next time they face this sort of a decision they’ll take into consideration that community in a way that they hadn’t before.”

Maegan Burr

Larry Miller talks with Bonnie Owens, Charles Milne and other students after the two-hour closed door meeting with Miller and some of the LGBT community leaders and U faculty, which ended with an overall sense of accomplishment and better understanding of each others views on Thursday. The protest scheduled during Millers speech tomorrow will still go on, but as Kathryn Bond Stockton, director of gender studies at the U said, it is more an expression of the LGBT point of view, not a protest of him speaking, and she wants the dialogue to continue.

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