This year our local university is celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the work of famous environmentalist Rachel Carson. A whole series of classroom experiences are being planned to include lectures, presentations, assignments and voter registration.
Of these activities, the only one not associated with the work of Rachel Carson is voter registration, which is to say that voter registration is extraneous to studying the work and lasting impact of this environmental saint.
So why have faculty scheduled voter registration activities into this celebration? The answer can be found in the political temperament of the nation’s university faculty and the particularly progressive bent of environmentalist faculty. Survey after survey have documented that the overwhelming majority of university faculty nationwide are liberal to progressive in their political outlooks and they are not shy about imposing their liberal political values on their students.
In fact, so convinced are these faculty of the righteousness of their political beliefs that they are virtually incapable of appreciating that others – other faculty and students – might legitimately hold political values at odds with liberalism and progressivism. What results is a “group-think” that is virtually impenetrable to intellectual and practical discourse.
Some of our local university faculty who are planning and participating in the Rachel Carson celebration exhibit this strident insensitivity to the political perspectives of others and as a consequence feel justified in employing their professional influence over students to promote progressive environmental values and additionally register students to vote in this manner.
In Florida, state law prohibits faculty from using university (state) resources for partisan political activities. In this instance because voter registration activities are planned as a part of academic activities and would enroll students from all political persuasions it is arguable that such activities are not strictly speaking in violation of state mandates. However, to the degree such activities occur in settings where only liberal and progressive political values are being articulated and where implicit pressure is exerted for students to adopt and mirror the progressive values of the faculty then voter registration activities can only be considered as an implicit effort to motivate students to enroll as progressives. Consequently, while the letter of state law is probably not violated, the spirit of those laws is ignored and a progressive political agenda is employed.
When university faculty insert actual voter registration into an academic curriculum that narrowly embraces a progressive environmental ethic then how can it be construed as being anything but the partisan coercion of students beholden to their instructors for their grades?
I would argue that since voter registration has no logical association with celebrating the contributions of Rachel Carson to the environmental movement that its inclusion in scheduled events is only intended to promote a progressive political agenda. Not only is such voter registration unnecessary – voter registration has been occurring on a daily basis on campus for several weeks now – to the degree it is instigated and implemented by faculty it is coercive and implicitly partisan.