Isn’t intellectual diversity a wonderful concept? Unlike race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, ideas carry with them real variety. Regardless of aesthetic difference, we’re all the same on the inside. What makes people, and students, unique are our varying ideas, not what we look like. That’s the diversity our university should strive for. Real change, whether in the arts, STEM, business or public policy, arises from civil debate and discussion of conflicting thoughts.
As a university, not only should you encourage this type of civil discourse, but it’s your moral duty to provide an environment where all ideas can have a platform, regardless of the administrators’ personal standpoints.
Not too long ago, President Robert Barchi sent an email to all Rutgers students. An email stretching far beyond what a public administrator should be allowed to do. An email pushing aside the nonpartisan commitment of a public university in favor of pushing a personal agenda.
Quoting our university president, he “personally support[s] extending the current DACA protections.” Though he makes it clear that support for the BRIDGE Act was not required, he made it accessible “because many in our community have participated in activities to bring attention to the plight and status of undocumented students.”
This is certainly true, and a valid side of the heated debate over illegal aliens and what to do with the people who violated the laws of the nation and cheated their way into the United States. Everyone deserves the right to speak their mind and show their support for any issue, regardless of whether a Rutgers administrator with email access to the entire student body likes it or not.
So, to make sure students sharing his views had an easier time venting their voice, he offered an extremely easy way to contact your representative in support of this legislation. A time-consuming process simplified to “take no more than a minute or two of your time.” Obviously, to better encourage voices he liked to be heard.
What about those who opposed the BRIDGE Act? Nothing. Left out in the cold and rain with no “generate[d] letter of support” against said bill. The college campus war against free speech comes in many forms. Hindering one’s voice isn’t the only option. Propping up the one side while making it blatantly obvious of your favoritism both discourages the other side from speaking up and stigmatizes their view as abnormal.
However, now’s the chance for redemption. A few days ago, a new bill was introduced in the Senate, and praised by our President. The RAISE Act is the immigration reform Republicans have been asking for. It’s only fitting for you, the Rutgers Administration, to open the option for conservative students to share their support for the bill. After all, you’ve given an outlet for liberal students for another immigration-related bill.
This seems like a fair way to truly be supportive to both sides of the aisle and provide for intellectual diversity, the only important diversity. We wouldn’t want our great Rutgers leaders to be hypocrites for only giving a platform to one side while ignoring the other, would we?
I challenge my school to go against the expected. To go against the liberal bias and hypocrisy. You don’t have to support my ideas, but you better provide the same ease of support that you allotted left-wing students. The growing conservative movement isn’t a fringe group or burned-out voice. We’re loud, numerous, and we want change to better the country. We deserve the same treatment as liberals.
No one forced the school to sponsor activism for solely one side, but now that the can of worms is open, the only right thing to do is provide equal accessibility to conservative minds. Be the change, Rutgers, against campus bias, and offer the same level of outreach to every student, and every idea. Universities were founded to spread all ideas, not just ideas Barchi “personally supports.”
Merits of both bills are irrelevant when the issue at hand is equal opportunity of free speech, political involvement of universities receiving millions from the government and treatment, without bias, toward an intellectually diverse school.
Despite that, the BRIDGE Act rewards criminal behavior, while the RAISE Act brings fairness and merit to the immigration system, all while giving American citizens a chance in an increasingly competitive country. I encourage all of you to check out the details before forming an opinion.
Brandon Chesner is a Rutgers University student and member of the Rutgers Conservative Union.