What is the role of a college or university in the face of public controversy?
Last week, the Manchester University administrative cabinet informed the university community, in response to several student petitions, that it would not take an institutional position on HJR-6, the legislation that limits marriage to a man and a woman. The statement created a strong reaction among students, alumni and friends of the university on both sides of the HJR-6 argument.
As hard as it might be for some critics to understand and as painful as it has been to receive the attacks, the cabinet believes this outpouring of responses reflects the essence of the university’s mission – to graduate persons of ability and conviction.
Ability is essential for a productive life, but conviction requires passion, opinions and actions that are consistent with a person’s beliefs and values. If the cabinet’s decision prompted Manchester students to become more informed and active regarding HJR-6, then the university fulfilled a vital part of its central mission.