Friday, April 29, 2005

Student Development Afraid of Independent Voice on Campus

From the GOP3.COM blog, a priceless account of the exchange between College Republican Chairman Brandon Henak and Pam Peters of the Office of Student Development. In Henak’s words:
When I posted an ad for The Warrior on the Marquette University College Republican’s website I was almost immediately contacted by controversial Office of Student Development employee Pam Peters asking what it was. I replied with the aforementioned details on the publication. Her response then included the following points:
  1. The publication would have to be approved by OSD. I responded that it wouldn’t because it was not associated with the university.
  2. She said the MU College Republicans could not support or advertise for it unless they were also approved by OSD and I stated our website is not under their jurisdiction.
  3. She said The Warrior could not distribute on campus unless it was submitted for approval, to which I responded that it could be distributed on public property.
  4. She finally warned me the MU College Republicans could not officially sponsor The Warrior and were to use caution on this matter and then requested more information. I said I am not officially a part of The Warrior board and she should contact Katie Dorman, the editor, for more information.
This incident fully demonstrates Marquette University’s fear of a loud, clear and independent student voice. Thanks to the courageous efforts of Katie Dorman, Chuck Rickert and the rest of The Warrior team, that voice will be heard loud and clear.
OSD is a bureaucracy that seems to live in constant fear that somewhere, somehow, one of the student organizations that they control will say something “out of line” and cause them to get into trouble.

Of course, this fear of student expression often backfires and creates a public relations fiasco for Marquette. On the afternoon of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the College Republicans asked to stage an event where people would gather around an American flag and observe a moment of silence. The Administration forbade it. One Student Development bureaucrat was heard to say that the event “might be offensive to Arab students.” The inevitable firestorm of media criticism ensued.

University bureaucrats, right up to the level of Rev. Andy Thon and Vice President for Public Affairs Rana Altenburg failed to learn any lessons from this, since less than four years later they shut down the College Republicans’ “Adopt A Sniper” fundraiser. This blunder earned the University another mother lode of bad publicity.

Has the University learned anything from all this? Probably not. The Administration — especially those parts dealing with student affairs, “mission,” and the University Ministry — is deeply disfunctional, marked by both a leftist ideological bias and an obsessive groupthink.

Our only reservation about blogger Ryan Alexander’s campaign to have Pam Peters of OSD fired was based on the fact that the problems go much higher. There are at least three levels of bureaucracy above her that need to be replaced, and replaced with people who have an entirely different way of thinking.


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