Liberal learning?

Kim Dunlap

I’ve had it. I’ve had it with the not-so-hidden agenda that the Lawrence administration seems to be not-so-subtly handing down to students.

Over the past two terms, students have had the opportunities to hear one speaker who was in support of the war, one speaker who was fairly neutral, and at least five speakers who were “anti-war,” in “support of peace.”

Ah, the benefits of an objective, liberal education. And to think that I once thought the “Lawrence Difference” meant the promotion of open-mindedness and the opportunity to receive all perspectives of an issue in equal proportion!

Guess not.

Another case in point: The recent press release entitled “Lawrence University Joins Worldwide Initiative in Reading of Lysistrata to Voice Opposition of Possible War in Iraq.”

This news release is about the Gender Studies Program’s undertaking of reading the play “Lysistrata” as a means to voice opposition to the war. An email was sent to all LU students about this project, encouraging them to participate. I highly doubt an email of the same nature would be sent to students regarding any type of a “pro-peace-via-war” event–especially if it were endorsed by a specific academic department.

The title of this release seems to indicate that Lawrence is taking a stance as a whole against the war, in favor of peace.

Well, I support peace, too. I even partook in an anti-war demonstration this past November. Now, admittedly, I would say that I support peace through different means.

St. Augustine once wrote, “The purpose of all war is peace.” This statement seems to nullify the idea that being in support of a war is mutually exclusive from being in support of peace. I am not pro-war. I am pro-peace, but I support the war as a means to achieve peace.

And yet, my opinion has changed on this issue, NOT due to the liberal education that I was promised, but to my own self-awareness and self-education.

Now I am being encouraged to partake in an anti-war demonstration that an academic department is sponsoring. Now I am being told that Lawrence University collectively opposes the possible war in Iraq.

Am I not also a part of Lawrence University? Am I not a part of that collective association who wants peace?

Apparently, I am not. I am one of a few (maybe more) who have been pigeonholed as “pro-war,” and therefore “anti-peace.”

I have been pigeonholed as such thanks to the LU administration’s rejection of the kind of liberal learning that promotes all viewpoints in proportion, and shows partiality to no particular position–which should be the foundation of a “liberal arts” education–in favor of their not-so-hidden, not-so-subtly bequeathed agenda to promote the “anti-war” version of “peace” in Iraq.