Roxane Gay presentation rescheduled due to back injury

Author and professor Roxane Gay, who was scheduled to speak to WKU students and the public tonight in Van Meter Hall, will be rescheduling her visit to campus due to a health concern, according to university administrators.

This free event is co-sponsored by the Cultural Enhancement Series and the Gender and Women’s Studies Program. It would kick off the 2017-2018 Cultural Enhancement Series schedule.

The event was originally scheduled to take place tonight, but was canceled with the intent of rescheduling on Monday afternoon, according to Kelly Scott, communications coordinator for the Potter College of Arts and Letters.

Scott said she received an email from Gay’s agent on Monday afternoon, saying that Gay’s appearance would have to be canceled due to a health concern. Scott said the event with Gay would be rescheduled, although the date is unknown at this time.

Kristi Branham, associate professor of diversity and community studies, said she heard that Gay had torn a muscle in her back and was unable to travel, leading to the event being rescheduled.

Gay, in response to a tweet from the Herald, confirmed that the event was being rescheduled and she still planned on coming to WKU.

Gay’s agent, Trinity Ray, contacted the Herald on Tuesday morning, confirming that Gay had torn a muscle in her back and writing that labeling the injury as a “health concern” did not accurately reflect Gay’s condition.

“This happened a few weeks back and while she’s doing her best to honor all of her commitments the car ride to and from her home to Bowling Green was going to total more than ten hours,” Ray said in an email. “It’s just too much for her at this time.”

Ray also confirmed that the event will be rescheduled.

“We are working with WKU to reschedule the event as soon as possible and have every expectation that Roxane will be visiting you all in the near future – hopefully this fall yet,” Ray wrote.

Gay is known for her writings on feminism, most notably her 2014 book “Bad Feminist,” which grapples with the struggle of being a feminist while still holding onto habits or beliefs that are seemingly at odds with feminism.

In her book’s introduction, Gay writes that she accepts the title of “Bad Feminist” and wears it proudly “because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right.”

Roxane Gay’s speaking popularity has also grown after a TED Talk she gave. “Confessions of a Bad Feminist,” accumulated more than 1.5 million views online.

Shelbyville senior Courtney Thompson said she’s been hearing about Roxane Gay since beginning college because she has majors in diversity and community studies and sociology.

“I was super excited,” Thompson said of Gay’s visit to WKU.

Thompson tweeted Gay on Monday afternoon saying she hoped Gay would still come to WKU, and also got a response from Gay.

“I just wanted to make sure she was still coming,” Thompson said, pointing out that she had seen a lot of people tweeting Gay about the cancellation.

Thompson said one benefit of the event being rescheduled is that it gave her more time to familiarize herself with Gay’s writings and said she was planning on reading more of her works before she came to campus.

“I would hate for her to not come,” Thompson said, adding that people on campus were excited to hear from Gay and “have been talking about it for weeks.”

Marysville junior Jordan Frodge, a Gender and Women’s Studies minor, said Gay’s focus on polarizing issues makes her an interesting speaker.

“All [Gender and Women’s Studies] speakers are phenomenal, but the ones that focus on unity in this place of polarity are especially important,” Frodge said. “In reality, there’s no one way to be feminist. In my mind, as long as I am supporting myself and other women, regardless of race, sexuality, religion and class, I have fulfilled my feminist duty.”

Frodge said she hopes that people who attend the program will leave feeling empowered and with a better sense of their feminist ideologies.

“I hope that Roxane Gay’s presence on campus empowers and validates male and female students alike and their evolving feminist identities,” says Frodge.

The next Cultural Enhancement Series event will be a presentation from Robert Reich, an American political commentator, author and professor who served in former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton’s administrations. That event will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in Van Meter Hall.

Other Cultural Enhancement Series events will continue next semester, beginning in February with a performance from the Yamato Drummers, a Japanese drumming group. That event will take place at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2, also in Van Meter Hall.

Both events will be free and open to the public.

Reporter Gabriel Scarlett can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. News editor Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @monica_kast.