2004-09-23 | Respectfulness needed this campaign season

Originally published by The University Register: Campus newspaper of the University of Minnesota, Morris

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - Volume 17, Issue 3

daniel j moore & Avi Rosenman

Guest Editorialists

As our nation draws within 39 days of, arguably, the most important national election of our lives, our campus seems to be growing increasingly segregated with respect to differing political views. While healthy debate is welcome and necessary, we as a campus need to remember that we are all students who live and work together. To shun any individual for their beliefs is not only unnecessary, but unacceptable.

It is with this in mind that we write to you today. In past weeks our campus has been subject to political propaganda and campaigning by the College Republicans and the College Democrats, among other organizations. All of these groups believe that they have the best interests of our nation's future in mind. And both are willing to go to great lengths to ensure that their voices are heard. But there must be some limits.

Many of you have read about the exchange that took place between the chairpersons of the College Democrats and the College Republicans on September 9 in the Student Center. What you have not heard, however, are apologies from either person for the blatant lack of respect of human loss that each group seemed to demonstrate that day. Now, on behalf of both organizations, we would like to apologize to the campus community for the misrepresentations of our ideals and our methods, as well as for the disrespect shown by our leadership toward the campus and each other.

That day in the Student Center, representatives of both the College Republicans and the College Democrats displayed the names and faces of thousands of individuals who have lost their lives to either terrorism or war. These people have died with dignity and deserve the utmost respect from each of us; the intentions behind these displays completely disregarded this respect. To further dishonor these individuals, each group put up signs placing the blame for these deaths on undeserving parties and belittling the sacrifices made by each one of them. Both individuals were extremely out of line in their handling of the situation.

This is no way to politic. Both of our groups believe that resorting to this level of childish campaigning is beneath our organizations. We owe it to you, the students and the voters, to provide you with an environment in which political differences can be expressed in a fair, responsible, and dignified way. Two individuals who are very passionate about their causes lead our organizations and each will go to great lengths to make sure that the other side is stifled. Our organizations have priorities other than those of our chairpersons. Both groups are committed to educating voters, respectfully debating issues, and making sure that students vote - regardless of their choice of candidate. By working with MCSA and many other administrative, student, and media organizations on campus, we are committed to keeping this election season fair, clean, and open.

In order to accomplish this, we need strong organizations whose beliefs and politics are appropriately represented by their campus leaders. As vice-chairs, we have made this our goal and our promise; we will do our best to represent our groups' ideals responsibly and accurately.

Whether it's Senator John Kerry, President George W. Bush, Mr. Ralph Nader, or any other candidate, each deserves the energy of students on campus in an appropriate fashion. As November 2 approaches, let us continue to work hard for our goals and commit to keeping our voices and tactics to those that are respectful and dignified, rather than continue on such a divided path.


[Author's Note, 2012] Avi and I wrote this letter to the campus community from our positions as 'seconds in command' of the two big political groups, he the College Dems and I the College Reps. That week the chair of the Dems had posted photos of soldiers who had died in Afghanistan and Iraq captioned with something like "Results of George W. Bush's Foreign Policy." The chair of the Reps responded by displaying a list of those who died on 9/11/01 captioned with "Results of Clinton's Foreign Policy." Avi and I were encouraged by the members of our organizations to make it clear to the campus community that the membership didn't stand behind this sort of behavior, to encourage folks to work together for a decent election, and not to lump members into the same low-brow group as our overzealous chairs.