Opinion: Bill hinders vision of top-tier status

By Steve Rubealcaba and Karla Coleman
Guest columnists

The controversial Student Senate bill proposed in response to the Hispanic Civil Rights Forum and to be voted on this Thursday, Nov. 7, has caused much dialogue.

However, the dialogue has been centered on the content of one speaker’s ideas, and one organization’s event, both of which are now in the past. What should be the center of debate is how this proposed bill will affect the Student Body in the future.

This bill should not pass for three reasons. First, the bill will set a policy that will be redundant to one already in effect though the Student Handbook of Policies and Procedures.

Second, the bill will allow the establishing of a system that is in its nature in violation of another policy established in the Student Handbook of Policies and Procedures.

And lastly, the bill will create a system that is antithetical to Baylor University’s 2012 initiative of becoming a “top tier” institution.

The bill’s author wishes to “cease promotion and/or sponsorship of any events or guest speakers which advocate violent rebellion and illegal resistance to the laws of the state and nation or the rules of the University.”

Compare this to a line from the Student Policies and Procedures website that was revised on Aug. 18, 2009 regarding Campus Speakers: “Speakers who advocate violent rebellion and illegal resistance to the laws of the state and nation or the rules of the University should not be invited.”

We do not need the Senate to create another line in a different policy and procedures handbook that establishes a policy that has already been established by the university administration.

Even the consideration of this bill is an outright waste of time, and we as students did not elect any member of the Senate to waste time.

Let’s suppose the bill is passed. It would have to be absolutely ensured that no event or speaker is going to “advocate violent rebellion and illegal resistance to the laws of the state and nation, or the rules of the university.”

But how are we to be certain whether the subject of the event or the content of the speech is going to advocate violent rebellion or illegal resistance?

What is simply passionate or empathic rhetoric to one person can be perceived as advocating violence or rebellious activity to another.

It says in the handbook verbatim, “It is recognized that there will be no question as to the acceptability of most of the hundreds of speakers who come to the University campus each year…”

The enforcement of such a bill would require a position or committee to be established, by student government or student activities, to review the “hundreds” of speakers that are scheduled each year.

How is that person or these persons to be absolutely certain that the content of the speech or subject of the event will “advocate violent rebellion and illegal resistance to the laws?”

What if that one person or the majority the persons of the committee reviewing speakers is biased to a particular ideology or to one media outlet over the other? Herein lies the flaw.

Whether intentionally or not, a person’s political ideology, personal opinions, and exposure to biased media outlets influences his or her perception on the outside world.

Baylor University’s student policy handbook states that in selection of guest speakers, “Particular concern should be taken that the University not be politicized.” And a system that can deny promotion and sponsorship to any event, forum, or speech based on the political and social ideologies of the same one person, or few persons, can and will easily become a form of politicized and institutionalized censorship.

How plausible is it to not “politicize” the University? It can be argued that many of the science departments, and all their students, faculty and guest speakers possess a liberal bias, considering how many liberal ideologies are based on and influenced by scientific research and innovation.

Every faculty member, every student, every event and every guest speaker will promote a political ideology directly or indirectly, as well as either advertently or inadvertently.

The current system allows the students as well as the faculty to be pro-active in the promotion of ideas, and that said promotion reflects the ideas of the student body, as well as the faculty, directly.

But the aforementioned system resulting from the bill would create a proactive selection (and censorship) of ideas and therein would reflect the ideas of one person, or a few persons directly, rather than that of the entire student body.

It is not the characteristic of a “tier 1” institution to reflect the ideas and perceptions of one person or a few persons.

It is, however, characteristic of a “tier 1”institution to provide the tools necessary for every single one of its students and faculty members to, out of their own free will, explore the various ideas, and perceptions of the world. They can then decide which of these ideas and perceptions to promote on the University campus.

Steve Rubealcaba is a senior neuroscience major from Dallas. Karla Coleman is a junior Spanish major from Dallas.