Voltaire once said, “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire’s works and ideas influenced the framers’ deliberations during and after the American Revolution. This concept is seen in the First Amendment. It can be applied to the freedom of speech, religion, press, petition and assembly rights. These basic freedoms have been analyzed and impacted by decisions made by the Supreme Court. I believe that by using and pressing the limits is the only real way American utilize their freedoms.
This past week, there were two articles that I think exemplified Americans using their First Amendment rights and pushing the societal limits at our University. Although I do not agree with both of the articles’ authors, there is no reason for the articles to not have been published or for the authors to be attacked for expressing their ideas. The articles I am referring to are “No Spring Weekend?!” by Rachel Boulerice, SCOPE president, and “USGA Meetings to Now Open with the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ Each Week: Why This Makes Me Uncomfortable” by Elizabeth Field, Charger Bulletin Editor-in-Chief. Both of these articles were opinion pieces written about issues being faced during the Undergraduate Student Government meetings.
In “No Spring Weekend?!” SCOPE’s president attempted to inform students of the monetary issues SCOPE is facing; her intention was to keep students informed. This article was an opinion piece in which Boulerice commented on the decisions made by USGA Senators and the discussion of SCOPE cutting back on luxuries and working with a smaller budget. Rachel had every right to voice her comments on this matter and I think that this was an important story that needed to be told. However, I want to respond as a student who is active in the University community and who has a strong understanding of SCOPE’s values and the special place it has in this university.
It was clear to many students at the end of last school year that the SCOPE budget had been dramatically cut. That would mean that when SCOPE began their planning for the 2012-2013 school year, they should have been aware of the cuts. We learn a lot about money being college students, and budgeting (we all know) is the best way to make sure we can stretch our dollar.
Boulerice said “My whole point: why should we cut back on the student body? It is the students that fund our budgets and the programs we hold are solely for the students’ enjoyment.” This comment I find offensive because the money that was taken away from SCOPE was given to other clubs and organization, and the money is still going to the students. Other organizations struggle every year to put on events because of their small budgets, yet they always put on great events. I think that SCOPE should have planned better and not relied on the possibility of receiving miscellaneous funds to continue funding programs for weekend programming.
The second issue I have is with the comment “the Senate that is supposed to be representative of the student body.” The words ‘supposed to’ are a harsh attack on the Senators. The student body elected these Senators, and they are active in the community and try to listen to the concerns of the student body. It has been obvious that students have been frustrated with the fact SCOPE has been bringing the same events to campus year after year. The Senators are hearing the students and understanding their displeasure with the way SCOPE is spending the students’ money. They want to see change before allocating even more money to the organization.
All in all, I think SCOPE Committee Heads and Media Heads will find a way to keep our favorite event Spring Weekend as great as it has been in the past. However, maybe it is time for them to reevaluate students’ reactions to their events and think about spending more frugally. But this just shows how important it is for students to get involved and voice their opinions on where they want their money to go—even if that means revisions to the inner SCOPE fabric.
In “USGA Meetings to Now Open with the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ Each Week: Why This Makes Me Uncomfortable” written by the Charger Bulletin Editor-in-chief, the article depicts an issue on which many students have an opinion; the question of whether or not the Pledge of Allegiance should be said at a private university. This article was phenomenally written, and although I oppose some of the ideas, there was no reason for the article not to be published or for personal attacks to be made towards the author.
Field utilized her freedom of press to express her displeasure about the Pledge of Allegiance being said. She gave thorough reasoning for her beliefs and I believe Field shows exemplary respect in the way she made her argument.
The Pledge of Allegiance is not required to be said in Connecticut, as Field clearly points out. Her specific comments were about her position as a student representative and portions of the pledge that go against her beliefs. In the USGA meeting, Field represents the entire Charger Bulletin staff. This includes over 50 diverse members of the student body. Being such a diverse community, we have different beliefs and it becomes a complicated issue. It is important to look at how plausible it is for student leaders to take a stand on a controversial issue on behalf of the student body.
The only middle ground is to go with a majority, as seen in the state and federal government. Being a representative comes with the responsibility of sometimes putting personal beliefs aside and doing what the people you represent desire. I think Fields showed the right traits of a representative by saying she would stand in respect but would not recite the pledge, and this is a fair compromise.
As for Field’s actual thoughts on the Pledge of Allegiance, this is where our views completely fork. As a child, I learned about the pledge of allegiance and was taught line-by-line what the terms meant. I now have enough life experience to form my own opinions, and although these opinions have slightly changed since I was first taught the pledge’s meaning, for me (a liberal women in the middle class), I will still recite the pledge.
All Americans are given the right to life, liberty and property, and laws exist to ensure this. Specifically, Fields looked at the line “Liberty and Justice for all.” Her experiences have not shown her liberty or justice. In my experiences, I have the liberty to act, do and say what I please and, therefore, I don’t think that any of my liberties have been kept from me, despite being a member of various minorities.
There is a presumption of innocence for all Americans; therefore, there is justice for all. I would be ignorant to say that there are no civil liberty issues in this country; the pledge does not say this either. However, I believe the pledge shows that Americans are willing to stand by their country despite its flaws. For me, saying the pledge is my way to show my appreciation for having the rights I was given. I cannot speak for all, but all individuals have the ability to show their allegiance and support for the country in their own way.
This past week’s paper makes me proud to be a member of this University because students are taking action and giving their opinions. We are making choices for ourselves and using the education we receive to make educated opinions.