Fresno State has been a hotbed of free speech in recent years. Professors, students, and community members have all voiced extreme opinions that stir up controversy both locally and nationally.
While I strongly disagree with the opinions and methods used by Professor Jarrar regarding former First Lady Barbara Bush — a revered leader and lifelong servant of our nation — I think we may be missing the point of how this particular issue impacts students.
One voice that has been ignored in community conversations and news articles may be one of the most important. Students have just as much of an interest in the free speech issues at Fresno State. I have seen professors, experts, public figures, and administrators quoted frequently in local and national publications, especially The Fresno Bee. President Castro has been incredibly helpful and responsive when it comes to listening to the student voice on this particular issue. But beyond the university, students have largely been ignored, and I am afraid that this issue impacts them the most.
Students Most Concerned About Value of Their Degrees
To be honest, I believe that students are most upset over the potential loss in the value of their degree than anything else. It does not matter whether students support or oppose the opinions of Randa Jarrar. Negative publicity and hate have flooded Fresno State, impacting all students who now must deal with a national issue that they had no control over. Staff must now answer angry phone calls instead of paying attention to the student. Community members have threatened to pull support from key programs that help students succeed in college. Students are the ones bearing the backlash.
I have been one of the largest advocates for Fresno State as many people know. To our friends who threaten to withdraw support, think about how that will impact a student who is trying to become the next farmer, teacher, lawyer, business owner, doctor, and artist of the Central Valley.
Inflammatory Threats Will Not Solve the Problem
To those that will respond to me with hateful opposition, think about how your threats will not resolve this problem and only further promote the misuse of free speech and hateful rhetoric that began this controversial conversation in the first place.
To everyone reading this, think about the student. Think about how the bashing of Fresno State because of one professor’s comments is impacting their college degree and education. We are watching to see how the generations before us are communicating with one another to resolve this issue.
Blake Zante is the Fresno State student body president.