I support the rights of ALL students to engage in thoughtful discourse and legal political actions.
As an educator (and specifically one at a state university) I continually acknowledge my own personal bias along with my political, social, and religious ideologies. I do not apologize for them as it is within my rights to hold each and every one of them. I tell students in our first day of class together – who I am.
I have chosen to attempt political neutrality in my classroom. To that end, I am avoiding discussions of specific political views, actions, and candidates. While many of our classroom topics are very much impacted by what is happening in the world around us, I believe – at this time – it is important for me to err on the side of caution. So, while I may use the example of Donald Trump’s hand gestures during a discussion of body language and the workplace, I won’t talk about Trump’s executive orders, for instance. One is a useful example that I can provide so my students understand a topic. The other is unnecessary at this time and would simply provoke dissent among students when they should be focused on their studies.
Am I thrilled with this decision? No, it’s quite uncomfortable to feel as if I’m boxing myself in, but I believe I can serve my students better in my capacity as educator. It is our job to help you develop skills in thinking rather than to tell you what to think.
Please do not mistake my silence for apathy.
Do not assume that I acquiesce to any policy simply because I remain mute.
Here is what I will say – because I think it is essential to do so:
You have value, place, and purpose.
I will respect your person-hood. Regardless of your past, your family, your faith, or the design of the meat-suit you inhabit, you are valuable. Our past provides clues in terms of context and motivation. It does not need to dictate our future.
I will respect your right to hold the beliefs you cherish, regardless of how far they are from my own. I will expect you to extend that same courtesy to me and your student colleagues.
As it is within my power, I will protect you and your rights. I will not permit you to trample on the rights of others on my watch.
I will encourage you to consider the perspective of others – as I always have – and I will continue to believe that there is good in all of us, ALL OF US.
You are amazing. I celebrate that.
And, last but not least…
One of the great outcomes of this election cycle and our new POTUS -in my humble opinion- is that many more Americans are now discussing important political topics while taking the time and energy to learn how our government works. People are becoming involved again with the mechanics of governance. I think this is a positive.
And, in taking a page from many Librarians who navigated political waters following the PATRIOT ACT all those years ago. There may come a time when I am told that I cannot alert people to requests for information. I take my cue from the men and women in the stacks…
Nobody from the federal government has requested
any information from me about any of my students
or coworkers. Watch for the removal of this message 😉