This archived article was written by: Jeff Spears and Erik Falor
Perhaps it is because of geography that the College of Eastern Utah has a very conservative attitude in its campus atmosphere. In this influential time of our social development, the impact is felt throughout the rest of our lives. This happens everyday because liberal ideas are misunderstood and therefore alienated. Because college may be the first time that many students are exposed to different ideas, it is vital for our education to actively cultivate a community that encourages the marketplace of ideas, and accepts everyone’s differences. We cannot become well-rounded and informed members of society if we are not exposed to the full palette of ideas that exist in the real world.
We don’t forward this notion because we are ex-debaters, nor do we write this solely to criticize those who have charge over our community. What we mean to communicate is that an environment that fosters many differing points of view is an important feature of a college campus. The free exchange of ideas is an important student right as well as teachers. There is a conservative bias on our campus which is an issue that has been avoided far too long, and it is imperative that we begin to welcome our peers with liberal ideas.
Over the past few years there have been many events at our college that have encouraged conformity to conservatism. We will look at some of the key events that have ushered in this trend, and explore the long term impact they will have on the quality of education at CEU. The first such event was the loss of the CEU debate team.
Debaters were always among the most outspoken and most liberal of all of the students at CEU. Not only did the debate squad demonstrate dominance in regional and national competition for decades, the earned the school the appropriate moniker of “Harvard of the Desert.”
The life of a CEU debater was spent balancing countless hours of preparation and practicing. This was all taking place while earning degrees and having active social lives. The debate program is notable for producing brilliant and successful students who continued their educational careers at prestigious campuses.
A by-product of losing the debate team is lackluster participation in the College Democrats Association. The debaters knew the power of participation, and were active in politics. Without their support, and especially because we are in a non-election year, we can expect that activities will be infrequent and low-key. This is unfortunate because the College Democrats Association can play an influential role in exposing students to ideas that are mainstream outside of Utah.
Another bad omen for future CEU students is the imminent retirement of our prestigious and outspoken political science professor, Dr. Jim Schampel. After having taken courses from him, we can say that he has been the driving force of liberal thought and expression on our campus. We have great respect for him and for what he does for political science students at CEU. Whoever is chosen to take his place has large shoes to fill, and a gnarly ponytail to grow. This trend was again made evident when earlier this week many information pamphlets were removed from the Student Health Center in the SAC. They were allegedly taken because their content matter regarded sexual health. This is not an issue of politics, but a matter of denying health care to students. Whoever did this obviously did not agree with the health-care opinions contained in the pamphlets, but their intentions were likely not to deny vital health information to anybody. This just goes to show the adverse effects of censorship. What is salacious to one person may be important health information to another.
Many CEU students are not aware that we even have a Health Center, much less know about the services they offer. All we are asking is for people to grow up and exercise some respect for other people’s opinions and rights. Last week’s immature “protest” of health care was the last straw in this downward trend of conservative bias.
Liberal ideas, if well understood, are nothing to fear. We contend that the College of Eastern Utah is already in a state of decline. We are two of the last debaters still on campus, Dr. Schampel is calling it quits, and all the while students are subjected to conservatism unrestrained. We stand in protest of the direction that CEU is heading because it is not in the best interests of a quality education. It will require dramatic changes to remedy this problem. We can start by maturing to the point where we tolerate each other’s views. The school can participate by hiring faculty and providing programs that will ensure a wide variety of opinions on campus.