Kellen Stepler | Staff Writer
In today’s political climate, not much can bring people on opposite sides of the ticket together, but Duquesne University managed to do just that.
The school’s political candidate policy, written approximately 20 years ago, prevents political candidates from coming on campus to speak to students.
According to University Media Relations Manager Rose Ravasio, Duquesne has numerous administrative policies, commonly referred to as TAPs. They are official directives approved by the university president based on recommendations of Duquesne’s executive officers.
The administrative policy (TAP) relating to political activity at Duquesne is TAP No. 27.
Duquesne is a tax-exempt institution of higher learning, based on requirements under the Internal Revenue Code. According to TAP No. 27, the university is not permitted to “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing and distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.”
“The university understands that student, faculty and staff participation in political process is and should be an educational experience, and that they are free to exercise their rights as citizens and be politically active,” Ravasio said.
The rule has caused some frustration with Duquesne’s College Republicans.
“This policy issue was raised by many of our members after conflict that we came across when we could not host our guest speaker at the last scheduled meeting,” Holden Sczerba, president of the College Republicans, said.
Additionally, the College Republicans believe that “all organizations at Duquesne University should be able to host candidates for public office on campus as it allows for growth, diversity of viewpoints, direct contact and opportunities for members in terms of jobs, internships and careers,” Sczerba said.
The College Democrats also feel the restriction of not being able to have political candidates speak on campus. As a group, they were in contact with current United States Representative Conor Lamb (D-18), whose special election sparked national attention.
“We feel very restricted, as he and many other people or groups, have reached out wanting to hold events or meetings with us on campus,” College Democrats President Robert Goode said. “It is quite an unfortunate policy as we feel it would help keep students even more informed and up to date on current events and the politicians that are important to them.”
“If each organization states that the candidates’ views are not endorsed by the university, then there should be no issue with an appearance,” Sczerba said.
While both groups may not agree with the policy, they both respect the university’s decision regarding the policy.
“With respect to our school, I understand how the university does not want to be politically affiliated and show favoritism towards sides and people,” Goode said.
“Our organization understands the current rules in place, and respects all decisions enforced by the University and administration,” Sczerba said.
Nonetheless, they hope for the policy to change.
“We look forward to having a healthy relationship with everyone on campus, and particularly the administration, to resolve the candidate and speaker policy,” Sczerba said.
“We feel this policy could be updated in a way that allows any group to bring politicians to their meetings or events, showing that it is important to support all students and their beliefs,” Goode said.