The following is an excerpt from an opinion piece I wrote for the Eagle back in November following the involvement of Occupy AU in a disruptive protest at the DC Convention Center that bordered on violent.
This is absolutely shameful and a tragic disgrace to American.
While this university prides itself on its dedication to promoting an active student role in public affairs, we are also supposed to stand as a tolerant, open-minded example to the rest of society.
We encourage students to debate issues affecting our community, our country, and the world at large, however it is understood that they must do so respectfully and, at all times, remember that they reflect on the rest of us and the values that this institution strives for.
It is no secret that many AU students actively support the Occupy movement. With the creation of Occupy AU, this now directly ties the name of this school with the actions of this nationwide phenomenon.
Any AU students who wish to take part in this movement need to consider their choices with great care. Perhaps there is a debate to be had about the perceived injustices of our economic system, but we need to take steps to make sure that all of our students recognize the consequences of their conduct and the importance of civil discourse.
Thomas Jefferson was right when he said that “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” However, like John Adams said, “We must take care, lest, borne away by a torrent of passion, we make shipwreck of conscience.”
I wrote this to encourage some of the AU students who were obviously frustrated with the current state of our society in all of its perceived inequities and injustices, to channel their energies in constructive ways.
While some of our colleagues failed to meet that standard last week, I would just like to reaffirm that this should apply to all of us, and by leading through example, we may be able to reach some of those souls who have lost their way.
It is important for us to take the high ground in political discourse, and while things may frustrate us at times, never stoop to the level of the immature whining that we see around us every day.
It is also important to foster healthy relationships with those of different opinions, as they are just a part of this community as we are. We need people to respect us as an organization, not just for the work we do, but the character that we display in public, especially in the face of adversity.
That is how we show we are truly dedicated to the causes we support.
The purpose of the Right Wing investigation has nothing to do with people or their individual rights, but to make certain that, as a private institution of education, we respect the importance of open dialogue and discussion.
We don’t view our liberal colleagues as “opponents.” We see ourselves as just a small part of a nationwide debate on the issues that affect all of us, and when other individuals and groups seek to destroy those educational opportunities for the rest of us, we must act to preserve the integrity of what academia purports to accomplish.
We should turn this protest and subsequent investigation into a turning point for campus dialogue where the passion we all share for public affairs will be acted upon civilly and responsibly as we do our best to understand the world around us and earn our place as contributing members of society.