Recently, our small institution gained national press for hosting a Donald Trump town hall meeting. When I first received the campus-wide email informing us the event would take place, I was shocked and a little bit scared given the happenings at some of Mr. Trump’s recent campaign stops. Political affiliations aside, I did not want Lenoir-Rhyne to receive bad press or anyone from our community to be hurt, physically or emotionally. Admittedly, I read the heading of the email and thought, “wait, LR is supporting Trump?” before realizing that many institutions, ours included, offer an open invitation for all political candidates to use campus to host events.
Looking back on the event, I still have a lot of feelings. One sentiment, though, tends to continually resurface for me. That is: I am thankful to work somewhere that allows, encourages, and exposes our faculty, staff, and community members to engage in open dialogue, explore new ideas, and form opinions on things that matter. Being a liberal arts institution, we encourage our students to think outside the box, challenge norms and ideas, and articulate their thoughts and feelings through course work and campus events. Regardless of political affiliation, I feel it is important for college campuses to host events, with or without a candidate, to encourage students to engage and form their own opinions. After all, isn’t that what college is about?
In light of the recent event I hope Lenoir-Rhyne University students, faculty, and staff as well as members of the great community now feel energized to research all of the candidates and make an educated vote come November. I hope we as a community continue to celebrate the formal education that happens in the classroom as well as the co-curricular education that happens on and off campus each day. We do live in a country with freedoms, and I am glad Lenoir-Rhyne University allows us to exercise those freedoms with our work, learning, and play.
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Podcast With Brittany Duron on Geeks & Nerds on Campus