Friday, January 13, 2006

Republicans Unhappy Over Inept Attempt at “Balance” in Speakers Program

In an attempt to provide balance in the slate of speakers that Marquette Student Government brings to campus, Student Government invited Eugene Jarecki, a speaker whom Michaella Radich, speakers commissioner, described in the following terms:
I assure you that this presentation is completely unbiased. This is not a Michael Moore attempt to exploit our nation or show a very liberal presentation, rather, this is the most conservative speaker available in MUSG’s price range. I have been researching for months to find a speaker to balance our campus’ political presentations, and Eugene Jarecki is completely unbiased says his agent as well as other universities at which he has presented.
In fact, a casual search of the Internet shows that Jarecki is a left-wing film maker whose film “Why We Fight” is an attack on the Bush Administration and the Iraq War.

Radich, in an e-mail to all Political Science faculty said:
Eugene Jarecki is completely unbiased says his agent as well as other universities at which he has presented. This is a blatant attempt on my and MUSG’s part to please especially the College Republicans as well as all other parties on campus.
The College Republicans have not been impressed.

In a post on the GOP3.COM blog, Daniel Suhr said bluntly I AM NOT “PLEASED”.

Suhr kindly provided some background for us.
After Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. came to campus the week before the 2004 election to “bash Bush” (as the Marquette Tribune headline described it), the College Republicans leadership sent a letter to MUSG and OSD listing our objections to the timing and content of Mr. Kennedy’s speech, given the political context. Prompted by the letter, University administrators met with the CR leaders to discuss the issue. The CRs expressed their frustration with the clear political bias evident in the timing of Mr. Kennedy’s talk and the utter lack of a balancing conservative speaker. We also pointed to Mr. Kennedy as one in a long line of liberal presenters and pressed the administrators to bring in Ben Stein as one token conservative amidst the sea of liberal lecturers, even though it was by then too late to bring in a conservative speaker before students cast their votes in the election.

I should also note that one common objection raised is that no one is preventing the College Republicans from bringing in Mr. Stein or another conservative lecturer, and that is technically true. But it is NOT the job of the CRs to raise the money to bring in a conservative speaker to balance off every liberal speaker the administration uses our tuition dollars to bring in. It is the administration’s responsibility to achieve some small measure of balance in the political persuasions of their lecturers, as there are conservative students on campus who want to hear conservative lecturers, and more broadly a variety of viewpoints on political questions contributes to an intellectually invigorating campus environment.
It appears that the administration and Student Goverment conceded the need for more balance in the speakers program, but what is one to make ot the extraordinary ineptness (this is too absurd to be simply dishonest) of the attempt?

Have people in MUSG not heard of Google?

Some insight is provided by the list of speakers who have been brought in this year. Mark Zupan (an apolitical speaker) appeared on September 14. Fernando Chavez (liberal) was scheduled on October 11, but had to cancel. And now we have Eugene Jarecki.

What do all these speakers have in common? They are all represented by Keppler Speakers.

And indeed, the big bucks outside speaker from last year (Robert F. Kennedy Jr.) is too.

MUSG, in other words, has allowed itself to become allied with a single national agency, and doesn’t seem to be considering other options.

Had MUSG really wanted to get a conservative speaker, Republican activists could have helped them, and indeed an excellent one could have been found for less money than Keppler charges for theirs.

Suhr, at GOP3, provides some specific suggestions.

Sometimes, it’s hard to know where incompetence ends and ideological bias begins. But MUSG needs to get its act together, since now it appears to be afflicted by both.


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