Should the UI have the responsibility of promoting human-rights organizations?

BY DI STAFF | FEBRUARY 06, 2012 7:20 AM

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I nearly threw the remote at the television when I saw the single-digit percentage of Nevada's 18 to 24 population who voted in the GOP primary. The youth are virtually inactive in our national and global political arena.

Well, then. The solution to this problem is public institutions in which the youth often preside: colleges. Let's have the institutions bring awareness to the important issues everyone gets passionate about. Like human-rights.

In our utopian heads, this always works, but reality is much different. Public institutions cannot promote just one human-rights group, so they do not have a responsibility to promote any.

Basic human-rights are what this country was built on, but we cannot skew the mission of one governmental institution to the mission of another. Just as the Department of the Interior does not have a responsibility to build spy drones, universities do not have a responsibility to promote human rights in China.

Though I personally believe these movements to be for honorable and just causes, UI should have no say in either the promotion or degradation of the issue because it is an institution charged with the sole purpose of safely educating it's benefactors.

If universities take away personal responsibility of each student to explore the shadows of the world, then creativity and opportunities for growth are stifled. Students become products of an elite, like toy soldiers put together piece by piece by an adolescent who decides that an arm should actually be a leg. What does this teach the students?

Nothing. And educational institutions are charged with just that: educating students — without bias to their cause. A thin line is drawn when the UI starts to choose which student organizations to promote more than others. If the university promotes one human-rights group, then it must give equal opportunity to all rights groups.

Put in other words, if Free Tibet gets promoted, then the Society of Pagans Invested in Reviving Ancient Lifestyles gets a crack to say pagans everywhere are being persecuted. And then UI would have to support the Christian group that says Islamic Iran is persecuting Christians — that's when we have the problem with the establishment clause of the Constitution.

No matter how important an issue is seen to be in the eyes of the rational populous, a fair public institution cannot promote just one organization or issue no matter how important it is: Eventually the slippery slope will lead to the infringement of the rights of some minority.

— Benjamin Evans


Institutions definitely have the responsibility to promote human-rights organizations.

If a prestigious institution such as the University of Iowa takes on the responsibility of shaping young minds into effective members of society, they must ensure that these students have a well-rounded education. Giving students a well-rounded education will allow them to solve problems more efficiently in any field of work. Being a well-rounded student means putting in work outside of the classroom with passion and enthusiasm.

Our campus' ignorance to global issues is embarrassing. Our Students for a Free Tibet chapter is currently inactive. The issue of Tibet's occupation by China should hit close to home on our campus considering that Iowa City is home to 1,737 students from China. I assume that a majority of students are unaware of the fact that the vice president of China will be in Des Moines in a month and that many Free Tibet groups will be there in protest.

This makes our school look uncaring and ignorant about global issues that are coming in the borders of our state.

The multitude of organizations at this school are more than welcoming to new students, but choosing an organization can be a daunting task. It seems that most students do not want to put in effort to find an organization that they can truly be passionate about and instead join organizations like sororities and fraternities that promote and participate in philanthropy events that they merely squeeze in between drinking and socials. These events do not involve an extreme amount of time but are still great résumé-builders. Greek-promoted philanthropy events raise a significant amount of money and would be a good supplement to participation in other organizations.

Small human-rights groups allow students to become involved and passionate. I request that the university regulate student involvement in order to make sure students are well-rounded on both communal and individual levels.

Promoting human-rights organizations would not only give students a more well-rounded education to prepare them for the real world, but it would help people in need, and improve the image of the UI. The university would improve its image and reputation by simply promoting what is fair and just.

— Rebecca Abellera

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