Letter to the Editor: Political figure should encourage campus debate, not scorn

The Rider University College Republicans were elated by the visit of former Gov. Mike Huckabee last Wednesday, April 1, to raise money for the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics and give a speech to the campus community. Huckabee came to campus because of the generosity of Rider alumnus and Trustee Mike Hennessy. One would think that at a notoriously apathetic university, students who were already liberal would stay home and watch some TV. There was, in fact, a strong presence from the community, larger than for Donna Brazile and Harold Ford, both liberals who barely packed the BLC Theater. One must ask, then: What was the protest about?

On college campuses, one must expect that there are a fair number of liberal professors. These professors are entitled to their points of view, as a college campus is supposed to foster free speech and a lively debate. Unfortunately, the face of the protesters was not one of open-minded debate, but one where college professors and students wanted to silence a conservative voice. Where was the outrage when Rider hosted only liberals right before the 2008 election? Is it only conservative students who care about an honest, intellectual debate on this campus? While we may not agree with Huckabee on every issue, his presence here brought 700 students and community members together to listen to him speak. This was a success for the Rebovich Institute and the university. Rider can finally be seen as an open intellectual center where students can disagree but remain passionate at the same time.

There are two sides to every argument. In politics, we call this a bias. College campuses are known for having a liberal bias, and Rider is certainly no exception. So when a conservative Republican came to campus, there were bound to be hundreds of liberal students, with pitchforks and torches held high, banishing this evil man from campus. At least, that is what Dr. Matthew Goldie of the English department and his protesters wanted you to think. On the contrary: The community of students showed itself not as a politically apathetic school, but as a group that is tolerant and accepting of all viewpoints. We wish that the students could teach a thing or two to faculty members, who decided that their own personal politics were more important than an intellectual debate on the issues.

That being said, this paper proved to be an unfortunate tool to the leftist Goldies. Last week’s editorial was a lapse in quality journalism. Editorials are going to be biased, as they are opinions, but opinions should stand by fact and reason. The editorial board made several rather lamentable attempts to conceal its aversion to the successful night. Firstly, it charged Huckabee with being a hypocrite for coming from humble beginnings and traveling in a limo. However, most speakers don’t go on speaking tours in Honda Civics, especially when they are a former candidate for president. Even Al Gore travels in carbon-consuming luxury. Moreover, Rider is an expensive private university; attacking Huckabee for being wealthy is quite hypocritical as we spend upwards of $30,000 a year for tuition.

Secondly, it asserted Huckabee neglected to address the protesters. While he did not invite Dr. Goldie up on stage and decorate him with some sort of medal, he did tell the audience to respect those who had contrary opinions, so long as they could articulate them. Thirdly, The Rider News arraigned that Huckabee did not speak about solutions. However, he spoke in detail about out-of-control taxes and solving this problem by implementing the fair tax. But that aside, this was a speech, not a lecture. Huckabee was not in an atmosphere to delve into a wonkish oration.

The Rider News and its Goldies were too narrow-minded to admit the full success of Huckabee’s speech, and instead chose to besmirch the notion of bipartisanship. There is reason to disagree with Huckabee’s claims, but complete opposition to his arrival does little good for the university and the free flow of ideas.

Joshua Hursa and Kyle Collins

chairman and vice chairman
Rider University College Republicans
for the College Republican executive board

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