Hi 81 / Lo 73
|Volume 70, Issue 5,
Friday, August 27, 2004
Partisan party should have been friendlier
The UH Women's Resource Center celebrated the 84th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed suffrage to women, with an informative, engaging voter registration drive.
The League of Women Voters, an organization that describes itself as a nonpartisan group that "does not support or oppose any political candidate or party," provided a speaker to give a talk on women's suffrage and the importance of voting.
That discussion turned out to be a very partisan tirade that rebuked President Bush and U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston. The speaker, Phyllis Frye, a UH alumna, went on to say that if current officials are re-elected, "you are going to start wondering why your rights are eroding. If you don't get involved, it's your own damn fault."
That may or may not be a fine reason to vote, but it's not the reason the WRC invited a representative from a non-partisan group to talk at an event that was supposed to celebrate suffrage, not attack a political party. It would have been just as repugnant if she had criticized any Democratic candidates or officials.
During other parts of her talk, she touched on what she felt was an unfair handling of women's rights and contraception.
It's disturbing that this sort of discussion was permitted with the University's stamp of approval. After all, the WRC is funded by the president's office. University-sanctioned functions should strive to be non-partisan.
What the speaker at Thursday's event should have been encouraging was civic participation, not stoking the fires of discontent by referring to the "party in power." It was not her place to tell would-be voters how they should vote, which she effectively did, albeit not in so many words.
The WRC, and every University department, needs to be careful in how it encourages democratic discussion.
Moreover, the LWV should take measures to ensure
that its speakers do not stray from an accepted ground for discussion and
only bring in political opinions when it is relevant or necessary.
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