Ledonne still banned from Adams State, guest speaker at Emerson College

Visual Media Arts professor David Kociemba hosts a discussion with Danny Ledonne at Emerson College.

Though Watching Adams publisher and former faculty member Danny Ledonne is still banned from Adams State University (ASU), he recently spoke as an invited guest at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts about his documentary “Playing Columbine” and issues of academic freedom and free speech. This event was part of Emerson’s Bright Lights film series with notable Emerson alumni. Ledonne earned his undergraduate degree in Visual Media Arts in 2004.

As reported in the Boston Globe, Ledonne presented on Tuesday, January 26th as “one of Emerson College’s most controversial graduates.” Hosted by Emerson College Visual Media Arts faculty member David Kociemba, Ledonne screened his documentary about his videogame, “Super Columbine Massacre RPG!” at the Paramount Theater on the Emerson College campus. As reported last fall, the game was cited by ASU police chief Paul Grohowski as one of the reasons Ledonne was banned from the ASU campus “for an indefinite period of time” for “alleged behavior” that Ledonne repeatedly attempted to discover without success.

Speaking to full theater of over 100 attendees, Ledonne reflected on the design goals of his game examining the 1999 Columbine school shooting, his time as a faculty member at Adams State, and his ongoing work as a media activist. “Media can be part of a broader strategy to enact political and social change” said Ledonne. “But realize that when you push on entrenched interests and existing power structures, they may push back.” Ledonne recalled his role as a plaintiff and media producer in a 2013 lawsuit to preserve an Alamosa, Colorado riverfront property for public use and ongoing agricultural production, called Keep Polston Public. Ledonne also cited his work with WatchingAdams.org as another example of media production for institutional change.

“I realize now that the story of the ‘Super Columbine’ still isn’t over because it touches on deeper issues that we are dealing with in this country around rampage shootings. It has also proven to be a useful scapegoat to retaliate against me” Ledonne added. “It’s good to be welcomed back on a college campus without being threatened with arrest.”