Sunday, May 04, 2008

ASU and an Ex-President

Faculty members at Appalachian State University, and some astute students too, were asking questions last week that are both pertinent and ... no surprise here ... unanswered by the ASU administration. As we have learned over many months now, the current leaders of that institution are not in the habit of stooping to answer questions from mere mortals.

1. The visit of ex-President Bill Clinton to the ASU campus last week went unacknowledged on the ASU website and unannounced on the general-alert e-mail system.

2. A large and offensive photographic display, featuring billboard-size blowups of aborted fetuses, attempting to equate abortion with genocide was announced (and some say promoted) through the ASU e-mail server to all subscribers.

3. When some asked administration officials about this puzzling disparity, the only official response we've seen said it would be inappropriate for the university to use the e-mail system to "promote a political candidate." Apparently, an announcement that an ex-President of the United States would be visiting campus would constitute promotion of a political candidate, while promotion of an anti-abortion display would not be a political statement. Well, okay then.

4. What do you call an institution that couldn't find its ass with both hands and a head-start?

5. Graduating editor of The Appalachian newspaper, Clair Baxter, perhaps feeling finally beyond the range of institutional recrimination, was courageous enough to ask some highly pertinent questions and, wisely, did not tarry for answers:
A club can sponsor a potentially offensive “Genocide Awareness” group to come fill the center of campus with billboards of unborn children while our faculty members are being asked to remove books and posters from their office walls for fear they may offend one student somewhere down the road.

Is there a double standard here?

Do we believe in free speech or not?

I think as a university we need to do some self-reflection.

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