Ryan Chartrand

“Democrat” is defined as an advocate of democracy as well as a person who believes in the political or social equality of all people. The fact that an event such as “Islam: What the West Needs to Know” would make a group of democrats forget the roots of their own is identity is extremely sad.

As a leader of a Cal Poly student group, it is my job to be a representative of students in a professional manner. My actions not only affect students of the Cal Poly College Republicans but also affect the image of every other club on campus as well as our own network of campus leaders in ASI, professors and the San Luis Obispo community as a whole.

The nature of the club that I lead is political in nature, thus controversial. However, that doesn’t take away from a standard of behavior that should be adhered to. When I enter an event put on by opposing political groups or any group on campus for that matter, I take pride in the fact that myself as well members of my club adhere to a code of behavior that includes respect: respect for this university that I represent, respect for the students who are sharing their viewpoints, respect for freedom of expression for all American citizens and respect for ourselves. I expect the same from all other campus leaders.

A university should be a safehaven for the first amendment, a virtual “marketplace of ideas.” If students let that concept go out the window simply because they disagree with the ideas being presented, the great university systems that this country so greatly values will be all but completely destroyed.

I sincerely hope that from this point on, students who disagree with the College Republicans or any other group on campus will find more productive and academic ways to differ in their ideas besides destroying or vandalizing property, or in the case of the film showing, entering that event with no other intent than to be rude, disruptive and completely lacking any form of self-control or respect.

Perhaps in the future there will be actual conversation about controversial issues at hand instead of a circus that calls for the freedom to speak only if the people who are speaking agree with ONE particular opinion. We don’t yet live in a society forcing us to adhere to fairness doctrines where we must present many sides to each issue. That is why, in this example, several political organization on campus exist. They can each represent their differing viewpoints. The College Republicans were called on to bring a speaker to the campus that represents the opposing view of the film shown. However, these people who called upon us to do so seem to have forgotten that other groups on campus such as the Muslim Student Association do bring speakers of opposing views. I don’t see anyone calling on them to bring in somebody from “the other side.” If you have a differing view, by all means take the initiative to come up with your own event and express it. Don’t use our events as your main medium to try and discredit us with insults and mockery.

Christina Chiappe is a social sciences senior and a guest columnist for the Mustang Daily. She is also a member of the Cal Poly College Republicans and contributes to the Mustang Daily conservative column on Wednesdays.

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