Opinion: Commentary on the conservatives on campus response article

By Joel Brennan | April 24, 2019 1:15pm

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Joel Brennan responds to a recent opinion piece regarding The Beacon's article about conservative students on campus.

I read both the original article and the article in response and would like to offer respectful commentary. There were a number of things I noticed. The first of these is that it begins stating the purpose to critique how the original article was written, but within one paragraph starts what could be construed as a personal attack on one of the five people interviewed. 

My second issue is that the authors paraphrased the quotes from Jordan Lozano. I read both articles side by side and the quotes used as "Claim 1" and "Claim 2" are both paraphrased and taken out of context. Jordan did not say "Any difference in pay between men and women can be attributed to the fact that women prefer to stay home with children, whereas men continue to work throughout their life.” Even if he did, this is still true. What he points out is that women are more likely to care for children at home and men tend to work longer hours. Here is a link to read. It takes into account many different factors and indeed acknowledges that overall there are areas wherein men work more than women. There are many factors that contribute to the earnings gap and because it’s a complicated question the source I used encompasses that. For reference, the author cited the Census Bureau.

Nor did Jordan claim that “Undocumented immigrants come to the United States and live off government assistance because they are unable to work without a valid worker’s visa.” Just before that comment in which he mentions that some immigrants are less motivated he said these: "it is the few with bad intentions who ruin it for everyone" (meaning he knows it isn't the majority); "Some people are genuinely trying to come here and make a better life for themselves and it is a little harder for them,” (pointing out not all illegal immigrants, as the authors claimed "expect ‘America to take care of them.’"). The authors misquoted Lozano and then criticized what was taken out of context. If, in fact, he made those exact remarks outside the confines of this article, the authors cannot criticize comments made off the record because it is unethical.

The third issue is that the authors, too, failed to cite sources. They made this claim: "From a non-experiential standpoint, it’s clear that undocumented individuals cannot access most federal and state benefits or welfare policies without proper documentation." They have no source for this information and there is no way for the reader to verify this claim. They inserted a "fact" into this article without a source, something they criticized people doing earlier when they said "we are taught the importance of citing evidence to support our claims.” 

The fourth issue is that they used incredibly biased sources. Bias is not a bad thing as long as the work is honest and you explain your bias to give more context (which is exactly what bias does). Their source for the information about gender pay gaps is not only improperly cited (they neglected to give the location of the information) and the source is the American Association for University Women. There are many available less-biased and more comprehensive sources available which the authors refused to cite. 

I also have issues as a Catholic with their comments about the University. 

1) The university is run by the Congregation of the Holy Cross and recognized by the Vatican as a Catholic University. They have every legal and religious right to restrict organizations on campus that are detrimental to the purpose of the university. The authors have an issue with this, yet failed to remember that many liberal universities have banned conservative speakers from coming to their campus which is the same thing. The university can legally choose what clubs they allow or disallow.

2) Teaching theology from a Catholic perspective is not something the university does in exclusion. Many professors including my current professor, Dr. Nina- who teaches several classes including both THE 105 and 205, are not Catholic and do not teach or pretend to teach from a Catholic perspective. This is, as the authors said in their article, "blatantly false.”

3) The university has chosen to implement requirements for the office of the president that it must be held by a Catholic priest. The university is run by a religious life organization so I'm confused as to why this is an issue. They end the paragraph saying it ensures the president will never be female. This is a secondary cause to a primary action. The intent is not to be exclusive towards women. Furthermore, something that is not inclusive is not inherently exclusive by design or intention — that is a logical fallacy. 

In the last paragraph there are a number of issues. They say that opinions need to be voiced with "tact and sensitivity". This is nothing more than another opinion. It's a valid opinion but they state it as if the author of the original article broke a rule. If that original article is neither tactful nor sensitive, they still have not broken any university rule. Then the authors said this: "The article boasts the message of tolerance and understanding of all political attitudes, but its content does not necessarily reflect this." Here's why that is wrong: 

The article does represent diverse views. All the views come from the right side of the aisle, but they are still diverse. If the entire article was only written about liberals, no one would have said anything to begin with. I know this for a fact because the Beacon has done that before and faced little to no backlash.

The authors also made this comment: "some of the comments are intentionally incendiary". They have absolutely no bases on which to make this claim. This is not correct. Disagreeing with or being offended by comments merely stating a view that is different from those authors’ personal is in no way the bases for an accusation of this nature. This is inappropriate conjecture. 

The conclusion of my comments is this. An article came out highlighting a truly marginalized group on campus. I've witnessed in person conservatives being yelled at, having doors slammed in their face, being ridiculed, being told they don't have the right to make certain comments, and even physically harassed. They finally have a voice and these two authors immediately try and criticize them once again. They are of course within their legal right, but this is incredibly ironic. If the authors want to participate in a conversation about discrimination on campus, I absolutely support that — but it needs to be done differently. 

Joel Brennan is a UP student and can be reached at brennanj22@up.edu. 

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