Marquette Warrior: Marquette’s 9/11 Fiasco

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Marquette’s 9/11 Fiasco

Four years ago the nation was galvanized by the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. There was a huge outpouring of patriotism from Americans.

But on the Marquette campus, University administrators banned one ceremony planned to honor the victims and express love of country.

Marquette forbade the College Republicans gathering around an American flag and observing a moment of silence on the afternoon of 9/11/2001.

The University gave mixed and contradictory reasons for its action.

One politically correct staffer in the Office of Student Development was heard to say that the ceremony “might be offensive to Arab students.”

But it’s also the case that University administrators had met on the morning of 9/11 to plan what “Marquette’s response” should be. Having planned “Marquette’s response” they didn’t much care for any student organization butting in and doing something they had not planned.

This deadly combination of political correctness and bureaucratic arrogance was a public relations fiasco for Marquette. Quickly picked up by conservative talk radio (always alert for liberal bias on college campuses) the story spread across the nation. Even the liberal Marquette Tribune gave favorable coverage to the College Republicans’ view of the issue.

The Administration faced a firestorm of criticism, and in true Nixonian fashion simply stonewalled, refusing to apologize to the College Republicans or even admit a mistake.

One would like to think that they learned from their errors. But they did not.

This past January, during Marquette’s “mission week,” the College Republicans put up a display in the Union to raise money for the “Adopt a Sniper” program -- which supplies needed equipment to American military snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Again, University bureaucrats shut it down. They gave various and contradictory excuses. On the evening the display was shut down, we talked to Stephanie Russell, Executive Director of University Mission & Identity and she claimed the fund-raiser was unacceptable because it supported the war in Iraq. The Administration then claimed that the “Adopt a Sniper” program was not a properly constituted non-profit organization. When that proved to be untrue they finally settled the excuse they stuck with: a set of dog tags in the display with the inscription “one shot, one kill, no remorse, I decide.” They claimed to find this objectionable -- although it took them nearly 48 hours to settle on this particular excuse for shutting down the table.

Again, they faced a public relations firestorm. Both the Associated Press and Reuters ran stories, and both news organizations quickly established that the “Adopt a Sniper” program was a reputable operation that does good work.

The same administrators who were responsible for the 9/11 fiasco brought off the “sniper” fiasco: Stephanie Russell, Andy Thon, Vice President, Student Affairs, Mark McCarthy, Dean of Student Development and Rana Altenburg, Vice President for Public Affairs.

They failed to learn anything the first time around, and so they repeated the blunder.

The fundamental problem in 2001 was the same as the problem in 2005: an inbred and politically correct cadre of administrators prone to groupthink and deaf to opinions from beyond their narrow ambit.

Ultimate responsibility, however, has to rest with Father Wild, who simply lacks the vision and intellectual acuity to check the excesses of his subordinates. Rather, he seems easily manipulated by them.

We have no inside knowledge of any plans the College Republicans may have that these folks won’t like. But sooner or later it will happen.

We can’t wait!


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