Despite the lack of funnel cake, Meliora Weekend is sure to be a hoot, as usual. UR is pulling out all the stops, netting top speakers and entertainment. Unfortunately, the vast majority of speakers are, once again, liberal.
I didn’t come to college completely nave. Close, but not completely. Rural Colorado offers a plethora of political affiliations all the way from moderate Republican to those who think Jesse Helms has gone soft. However, I did know enough to expect that my conservative leanings would be more or less unwelcome on campus. This was fine for me. I came wanting to have all of my views challenged, hopefully weeding out some and reinforcing others, which is why I have no problem going to see Zinn, Bradley, Reno or Clinton. It’s the reason I joined the debate team, in which ecological feminism is a perfectly reasonable point of advocacy.
But this process needs to go both ways. The same structure which forces me to either become open-minded or stay in a hole should not be challenging only the conservative students, but all students. It is impossible to do this when the university presents almost invariably liberal speakers. The same leftists who criticize Limbaugh listeners as ‘wanting to have their views parroted back’ will fill auditoriums with their liberal parade. This is bad for a few reasons.
It makes the university appear closed-minded. U.S. colleges are notorious for being increasingly liberal ? UR could use Meliora Weekend to change the wave by providing a forum where all views are represented equally. In a society where the entirety of middle America is screaming exclusion from mass media and higher education, we could benefit from showing a commitment to fairness. Closed-minded people are scared of change and terrified of rational argument. That isn’t the way we want people to view us. I predict that the first national university to balk and show a real, substantive commitment to objective debate would not only be hailed in the media as a much needed move, but increase the prestige of the university in academia and popular opinion alike.
Second, the ‘liberals only’ policy has the tacit effect of silencing minority viewpoints. We don’t get to hear opposing views if no one is given an opportunity to speak. The social pressure is enormous on conservative students to just shut up and take liberal ideas as gospel.
Republican posters on campus are almost all torn down or vandalized within 24 hours of being put up, no doubt in the name of free speech. Conservatives are on the defensive at all times. Without challenging the liberal views on campus, the college adds on to the monolithic cake of political correctness. No one should feel excluded in an academic environment.
Third, it isn’t healthy for students who came to campus as liberals in the first place. For every Fruita, Colorado student who was exposed only to conservatism, and is in desperate need of alternative views, is a pre-fab liberal student in need of the same thing from the other side of the aisle. Everyone is left a little less fulfilled, a little less sure of the implications of their beliefs.
To be fair, Bill Bennett is playing the token conservative this weekend. But fret not, liberals. Rest assured that he will be the last conservative invited to this school until next October. Meliora Weekend has tons to offer this campus. Political diversity isn’t one of them. Neither is funnel cake.
Logan is a sophomore and can be reached at email@example.com.