Editorial: FGCU ... ‘Civic engagement’ may often be uncomfortable

This is a fascinating story.

The other day on our front page we told of a Florida Gulf Coast University student winning a $100 prize in an online contest seeking examples of “leftist abuse” on U.S. college campuses.

The FGCU student submitted a tale to the conservative/libertarian CampusReform.org about a community involvement class with an assigned book too liberal for her liking. She reported parts of the book, “Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time,” by Paul Loeb of Seattle, said conservative views should be disregarded.

The FGCU professor says the class is supposed to make students think and the book is only part of that.

The author of the book, from Seattle, says the book is clearly labeled his own opinions, and he is correct.

Quite a story — one that makes students as well as educators and readers think.

Think? In college? What a concept.

The professor for the class, Foundations of Civic Engagement, required for students in the College of Arts and Sciences, says the Web site essayist is allowed to read from other, more conservative publications — and she is the life of the class.

Far from “abuse” as defined by a partisan Web site, we would call it a college-level example of academics and independent thinking in action.

Trying to be too exacting with balance can turn stifling, even contrived.

One of FGCU’s clearest mission statements is for civic engagement.

This class appears to be putting that into action.

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