Make universities neutral again

By Sebastian Moronta Blanco, Staff Writer

I’m an advocate of what I like to call “time and place” politics.

Sometimes, it seems as though everyone around me each day grows to hate politics more and more. Further down do I see the iron curtain fall over a conversation as soon as a matter of policy or political intrigue comes to order. I personally blame Trump, but I know that’s an easy answer.

The truth of the matter is that politics are everywhere, it seeps into nearly everything people enjoy, and I think that’s part of the problem.

24/7 Election coverage for 18 months has the American electorate (or at least the young, college-attending portion of it) fatigued. This is why I advocate for “time and place” politics.

The concept is simple. There’s a time and a place for everything, especially politics. On Superbowl Sunday, I prayed that the football game that day could hold 6+ hours of national airtime and stay about football. I wasn’t the only one who was glad when it did.

Another part of time and place politics is standing. In court, there is with any case a question of standing. There’s a long legal definition that Google can give you if you really want to see it, but basically the question standing asks is whether or not the people who brought the case to court has a meaningful connection to it, and thus have the right to sue in the first place.

You can’t sue someone because they broke your buddy’s leg, it has to be your leg that was broken, otherwise, you aren’t involved.

This should apply to politics and political speech as well. Specifically, one should consider the position they are in when making public political statements and evaluate whether or not someone in that position should be making public political statements.

This is why I was surprised to see two messages from administration regarding the Trump travel ban.

The first was a message regarding the two professors who were detained as a result of the executive order, and this is where the university fulfills both of my personal guidelines for political speech. The issue directly concerned the campus, and the message was delivered in a timely manner.

The second, however, I take some issue with.

I completely understand why the second message was put out. A simple review of the university’s discrimination policies is arguably something the school could do at any time without needing a specific reason.

However, after a memo discussing the executive order had already been put out, a pointed one with a specific purpose, a second memo seems out of place. The university had taken a firm position on the travel ban, plain and simple.

A revisit to the issue can only attempt to add to the national conversation, and that is a position the heads of a public state university absolutely should not put themselves in.

To be clear, I agree with the content in the messages administration put out, I’m just concerned about university politicization.

As the country polarizes itself into oblivion, I fear that the American university is in danger of falling in.

One of my worst nightmares is a world where schools are identified as Democratic, or Republican, or Green party, etc.

I’m horrified by the thought of a student looking for schools and passing over a great program or opportunity because the school identifies with a political ideology, by the possibility that a student may be chosen over a more deserving candidate because he/she believes in isolationist immigration policy.

When the heads of universities make repeated public statements on political affairs, they run the risk of aligning the university they represent with a certain opinion. Regardless of how widely held that opinion is, if there is even one student on campus who believes that the travel ban was anything other than condemnable, I’d be willing to bet that student felt a little detached from this community when he/she read both of the messages.

There is a time and a place for everything, and this issue indisputably needs that. I’m just not sure a second e-mail to students over the school’s network is the place or time to do it.


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