Fareed Zakaria came to UR this weekend to give an hour long address to anyone who could get their hands on a ticket. His speech was eloquent, intriguing and provocative. However, after he left the packed Palestra he was not finished. He continued his educational venture by sitting with a group of a dozen Political Science majors and answering their questions enthusiastically and respectfully for almost two hours – an hour more than he had originally agreed to. By doing this he set a new standard for speakers on this campus. He truly embodied the goal of Meliora Weekend speakers and all speakers who come to UR. Everyone who heard him was celebrating the values of their educated lives.

After such a success, it is especially disturbing to hear the apparent pretenses under which Senator Hillary Clinton and her challenger, John Spencer, will be coming here in order to hold a formal, televised debate in Strong Auditorium. Chances are you have not heard much about it – mainly because you are not invited. In fact, only 20 people from UR, most of them top administrators or deans, are allowed access. Not a single UR student will get in.

This is not because students don’t fit. In fact, only 150 seats are going to be filled, which is not nearly the full capacity of Strong.

But, this isn’t the entire point. To us, Zakaria represented two things: first, the ability of our school to get a great speaker who will obviously contribute to the prestige of UR. But second, and above all the most important thing, is that he represents just how much a speaker can give to a school – the ability to inspire and educate in a real, tangible way.

If UR agreed that students can’t attend this debate then they are proactively forcing us to miss out on opportunities to become more educated and politically and socially conscious.

We understand why no students are probably being allowed in – incidents like the one at Columbia University speak for themselves – but if that’s the worry, then hold the debate somewhere else. If these politicians are giving nothing to the student body or doing anything to enrich our lives, then we should not have anything to do with them.

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