While people across the nation find themselves embroiled in political debate, Butler University locks itself out of the conversation.
The campus lacks frank political discussion.
Current policies block funding to overtly political student organizations on campus.
This moratorium on public debate harms student experience and scholarship.
Students on both ends of the political spectrum think a sweeping change to Butler’s political climate is essential.
“A lot of people come in here with the biases their parents gave them,” the College Democrats President Cole Collins said. “If they do think about their own political views, they don’t participate.”
One of the changes both political groups recommended is releasing previously blocked funds.
“I think the blocked funding to political student groups on campus harms the student body and its ability to discuss these issues,” the College Republicans Chairman Stephanie Hodgin said.
Without money from Student Government Association, these organizations have to seek funding from outside sources, such as Organizing for America and the College Republican National Committee.
This makes it far more difficult for these organizations to create events that involve students in political discussion.
Both Collins and Hodgin said they want to set up debates, host student forums and invite political candidates to campus.
But they lack solid funding to do so.
Butler’s reluctance about bringing these discussions to the forefront is understandable, especially if it’s to avoid the appearance of taking sides.
Yet encouraging political debate will ultimately benefit the campus.
If student political organizations had the money to explain their platforms, students would better analyze their own stances and better understand others’ stances.
If political debate and action happened on campus, students would become more involved in the community and unlearn the stereotypes they may have about the “other side.”
If Butler invited politicians and political activists to campus more often, more students might be willing to enter the political foray.
Another problem is that the administration does not allow SGA members to openly express their opinions in the public sphere.
SGA President Mike Keller said he notices the lack of honest political conversations and hopes to rework the policy.
“I think it would be an improvement to the campus to relax the policy a little bit since it’s a little broad,” Keller said.
Keller formed a new SGA position, the director of external affairs, in order to bring more candidates to school and involve students in the political process.
Butler administrators are currently considering reworking this policy with SGA.
But for now, students are waiting to see some concrete changes.
“They should just fund College Democrats, College Republicans and Student for Liberty equally,” Collins said. “Even $100 would help each group set up events.”