While a general belief may be that I should NOT write this blog on the general issue that has arose at Wabash within the last 24 hours, I’m going to mention a few brief points as my job as a blogger is to talk about my experiences on campus. Thus, I encourage all readers to take time to look at both sides of this issue, and to become informed on how college politics are seeming to work. No one or their preferences will be attacked in this blog, it is to be a leveled headed post meant to make one think.
One of the greatest liberties we as Americans cherish is that of general freedom and the freedom of speech. We pride ourselves on being able to speak our minds, beliefs, values, and morals for other to see and to weigh for themselves. As a nation based in democratic and republican ideals of government we commonly disdain when individual leaders or bodies speak for the general populous in a way that neither reflects the belief of a number of the people nor has any sizable info of the public’s opinion to begin with. We as a society write letters to our Congressman, elect officials we believe represent our beliefs, and march on Washington almost every week it seems to make our voices heard to our leaders. We do not want President Obama, Congress, or any elected official to speak for ALL of America without first hearing the people, taking everyone’s opinions into account, and then making a decision. What American would not agree with that statement?
Now here is a separate question: What makes a college? Colleges and universities are considered institutions of higher learning and teaching. That is what a college is by definition, but not what makes it. Is a college the bricks that make its walls? Is a college the ground it was built on? Or is a college no more than the entire student body of that institution, with some thoughts of the faculty and staff who do put lots of time and effort into the place. By this point a college is never the thoughts of only faculty leaders, but while faculty’s thoughts should be included, the faculty are not truly a faculty without students to speak. Thus, a leader of a school should not be able to speak for a student body on controversial topics that were never prior disclosed or mentioned to the student body. As a college’s beliefs and stance (if it has to have one, which it does not) are not that of the administration but the student body. Finally, a school’s administration should not be able to make public statements on behalf of the school, out of state, without at least a prior notice to the student body on such controversial topics that implement people’s freedom of religion and expression. Because when a statement is made as “Wabash’s” stance on a topic, it does not go out to the rest of the world as the administration of Wabash, but as the student body.
“Well colleges take stances on political issues all the time. Why can’t Wabash now?” In my personal opinion colleges should never have official stances on political issues. Nonofficial stances to be made should be the direct result of students voicing their opinions publically, not statements by the administration unless they are private schools of a specific religious denomination with student backing. If a political issue was made by a college it should not be on controversial topics that clash with possible students’ religions at the very least. For example, if the school were to take a stance on if the U.S. should abolish the penny or keep it (for whatever reason), that topic does not infringe on any student’s religious or moral rights. It is a topic that obviously has two sides and a difference in opinion that could come from different individuals. Now if a school was to come out and say that it stood either FOR OR AGAINST ABORTION, then a public questioning would explode at the college for taking either side on the debate. Since it does not affect the college as a whole, nor should the institution have any reason to provide an official, public stance. SO why does Wabash, DePauw and IU similarly feel the need to release recent statements on HJR6? While not as controversial as abortion, the college taking a stance on the issue, whether or not the college had stated is was against or for gay marriage and civil unions infringes at every point a large number of students attending the scarlet halls of Wabash. The apparent reasoning from the official statements by President Hess also seems to state this as nothing more than what is a way to entice faculty and students who support HJR6 marriage to come to Wabash. That is not a reason anyone of a certain sexual preference should attend our beloved college. People should be seeking out Wabash due to its high academic standards, opportunities, and standards. Not because we support or deny HJR6. Understandable, but Purdue University when asked stated that it would have no official stance on the topic. Because Purdue knows it should have no publically official statement on a controversial topic that from either stance infringes on a certain set of student rights.
Finally, this is a liberal arts college for men of all denominations, orientations, beliefs, values, and morals. Every student has the right to express their thoughts so long as they do not endanger or harm another human being, property, or break the law. We are a college that should respect every side’s view, left wing and right wing, and never take a political/moral stance on a topic that offends and contradicts a large number of students no matter which side the “school” is officially on.
tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito