Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Marquette’s “Sniper” Fiasco: Ending with a Roar, a Whimper or a Shrug?

When Marquette closed down a fundraising table the College Republicans had set up for the “Adopt a Sniper” program, a media firestorm followed.

The College Republicans made the Administration an offer to (in the words of the organization’s Chairman) “put this ‘Support Our Troops’ table disagreement behind us.” Specifically, the College Republicans proposed to donate $300 to the American Legion’s Operation Airtime, with Marquette matching the donation.

Today, several Marquette officials, two officers of the College Republicans and the organization’s Faculty Advisor met to consider the situation.

Marquette insisted that the University does not oppose the U.S. military nor object to helping the troops, pointing, for example, to the ROTC programs on campus and other approved fundraisers in support of America’s soldiers.

In response to the Republican’s request for a $300 donation to the American Legion, Marquette gave a flat “no,” claiming difficulty using University money to fund a private charity. They did, however, suggest that the Republicans might host a fundraiser for the group, and promised a strong University effort to help publicize the event.

The real value of such publicity could easily exceed $300.

The most contentious issue was who was at fault for the “Sniper” fiasco. Marquette was willing to say that there was blame to be assigned on both sides.

There was certainly some raggedness on the part of the College Republicans, who failed to specifically apply for permission to raise money for the sniper’s group, and only asked for permission for a “Support the Troops” fundraiser.

College Republican Chairman Brandon Henak explained that when the application was submitted, several different organizations were under consideration, and the group only settled on the “Sniper” organization later.

But in our view, Marquette bears primary responsibility for the fiasco.

The Administration had over 24 hours between the time the display was shut down a bit before noon on Monday (January 31), and Tuesday afternoon when the Administration informed the College Republicans that they would not be allowed restore their fundraising table at the Union. A bit of research on the web would have shown that the sniper’s group was a legitimate one. A bit of consultation outside the ranks of administrators would have revealed that the decision would be hard to defend.

Instead of a careful reconsideration of the hasty Monday action, “group think” seemed to prevail as Marquette administrators solidified behind the earlier action.

Even today, University officials insisted that closing down the table was the right thing to do. That bodes ill for the future.

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