Tuesday, February 08, 2005
College Republicans at Marquette University tried to collect donations for the "Adopt a Sniper" program, but University officials "rescinded the College Republican's ... table in the Alumni Memorial Union Monday, saying the program's message did not fit the university's mission and therefore could not be set up in the AMU" [source]. By the way, the program used to be called 'Adopt a Sniper' and is now called American Snipers (www.americansnipers.org). But for the rest of this post, I'll use the name that the students and University have used. Now, this isn't what it sounds like (or, maybe it is -- I don't know what you think it sounds like). "Adopt a Sniper" is a legitimate, nationally recognized organization that raises money in order to help military snipers do their job better and make their lives easier while they are working in combat zones. Their programs provide "everything from the basic hygiene type items such as handy wipes to tactical products such as holsters, high speed rucksacks, new optics, rifle accessories, to mini binoculars and batteries" [source]. According to the Marquette University student (I didn't catch his name) who was interviewed on the Michael Smerconish show this morning, snipers are typically outfitted with standard body armor, which they actually remove in order to do their job -- this is for dexterity and speed I imagine. And the students were trying to raise money to get the snipers specialized body armor. The school's response has brought out charges of hyper-liberalism while applauding the students' efforts. Most stories trot out blurbs about the university's support for abortion rights groups as well as gay student organizations, and the College Republicans seem to want equal treatment. In my opinion, college is the place for students to be exposed to a variety of ideas and opinions. I just think it is good, if not essential, for students to be exposed to ideas and policies that might be shocking or controversial -- instead of just hearing lectures about the topics (or never hearing them at all). Regardless of my own opinion on a topic, I think students must be exposed to all sorts of ideas and given the chance to form their own, well-reasoned opinions. If the shool is sponsoring abortion rights groups, give an anti-abortion group equal time (note that I am staying away from the misnomers "pro-life" and "pro-choice"). If there is an anti-war demonstration, give equal time to a rally that supports the troops. And so on. Now, I can understand that it might be a bit much for University officials to accept students raising money for guns and ammo -- I can see how that would be considered against their precipts for "mission week." But if there is some way that the students can guarantee that all funds they raise will be used for body armor (defense is a good idea), hygiene products, or other non-offensive items, then why not let them support the troops in this way? You can read all about this story in the MU campus newspaper, at CNN, or the Post-Crescent (just an AP story). For more information, you can check out what the Marquette University's College Republicans are saying right now [CRMU Website], and look at the American Snipers program for yourself [website].