As the Star Tribune reports, a group of students at the all-female Catholic school in St. Paul is taking the administration to task for its well-meaning, but ultimately wrongheaded policy in banning otherwise interesting speakers in the name of political "neutrality." During the recent election cycle, the school's policy has led to its decision to decline visits from Senator Hilary Clinton and conservative commentator Bay Buchanan, a John McCain proponent.
The following is an excerpt from the students' petition that appears in the Strib article:
Bravo to the students! Meaningful discourse is a process, not a zero-sum game where one viewpoint must be immediately negated by an opposing viewpoint. While it's laudable that the school doesn't want to offer an unfair advantage to one side or the other of the partisan divide, I think the sharp young women at St. Kate's are savvy enough to realize a speaker's political agenda without being unduly swayed by it.
"Do we then need to invite an equal number of Socialist, Green, and Independent
party members to campus as well? And what of the anarchists? It is quite evident
that a path of 'neutrality’ is, in actuality, more difficult to negotiate than a
path of political engagement. ...
[The notion of] political neutrality is a figment of our administration's collective imagination," the petition writers add. "We believe that our administration's decision to disallow both Ms. Buchanan and Senator Clinton is embarrassing and inappropriate on the grounds that this college was rooted in stronger stuff."
Some of the students are reportedly meeting this afternoon with administration officials to discuss their concerns about the speakers' policy. I wish them well.