Freshmen induction not place for Bush-bashing

By on September 4, 2003

It was a warm, muggy Friday afternoon as the last group of Quinnipiac University freshmen descended onto this campus to move in for the fall 2003 semester. Boxes were herded into dorm rooms and unloaded by the dozen. Freshmen said their final goodbyes to friends and family – their new life as college students had officially begun.

To “officially” introduce the Class of 2007 to the Quinnipiac administrators and faculty, an induction ceremony was held on the Quadrangle in front of the Arnold Bernhard Library. The bad news for students was that a hot day became hotter under the black robes distributed to them for the ceremony. The good news came in the form of an announcement at the beginning of the program that the length of the ceremony would be greatly reduced due to the heat.

All in all, the induction ceremony went very well, with the exception of the keynote speaker, Professor Sean Duffy of the Political Science Department. Professor Duffy’s biography was featured on the inside cover of the program booklet, leading one to believe that he would deliver a very intelligent address. He received a warm introduction as he stood before the Class of 2007 to talk about responsibility.

Somewhere along the line, however, Professor Duffy lost his way and began some pretty heavy criticism of the Bush administration’s policies from the Iraq War to the economy. Carefully choosing his words, Professor Duffy accused the Bush administration of leading the nation to war on evidence that “was, at worst, fabricated.” He proclaimed that America’s recent foreign policy of “shoot first, ask questions later” had lost us friends in the world, and that our unilateral strategy was the wrong approach to take in Iraq.

Professor Duffy went on to take shots at the wisdom of President Bush’s economic policies, and in a weak attempt to connect all this nonsense to his original topic of responsibility, urged students that one way to show responsibility is to be responsible for our government and to question it.

The facts relating to the Iraq War have been debated hundreds of times over by people across the nation, so there is no sense in doing that. I have noticed, however, that the majority of anti-war liberals have ‘criticized first, looked for evidence later’. In other words, it’s increasingly easy to hurl pot shots at Bush, but when it comes time to produce hard evidence of any misrepresentation or flat-out lie, everyone suddenly turns tellingly quiet.

A few things need to be mentioned at this point. First, I will readily admit that I do not remember every exact quote from Professor Duffy’s speech. In fact, I am probably missing some of the anti-Bush comments that he made. However, one did not need to memorize every word to figure out his main message: the Bush administration has been irresponsible in leading our nation since taking office.

Second, I have never met Professor Duffy. I am sure that he is a very learned man and puts at least some thought into his comments, as opposed to some on the left who take pleasure in making quick “Bush lied” sound bites at every opportunity. I have no basis to make any judgment on Professor Duffy’s character or personality.

What I will do is judge Professor Duffy’s timing, which I gave him a grade of an F on that. An induction ceremony for the Class of 2007 on, for many of them, their first day on campus, was a terrible forum for political commentary of any type. It is well known that college professors tend to me more liberal than conservative, but hundreds of Quinnipiac freshmen did not have to wait more than six hours before hearing their first liberal, anti-Bush speech from a professor.

Obviously, in this country, everyone has the right to express their mind freely, including Professor Duffy. However, people also need to use professional judgment when commenting on controversial issues, such as the Iraq War. Professor Duffy showed no such judgment. He rose to the bully pulpit and turned a welcoming induction ceremony for Quinnipiac freshmen into a circus of unsubstantiated Bush-bashing.

There is a time and place for everything, and the induction ceremony, at least I thought, was meant to welcome freshmen to Quinnipiac and provide a forum for selected faculty and students to offer their insights about the transition to college life.

But, I ask of those who were there, what is the one thing you remember from all of the speeches? Though Admissions Dean Joan Isaac Mohr’s Class of 2007 statistics were interesting, I would have to go with Professor Duffy’s political rant. Is that what the event’s organizers intended? I think not. Professor Duffy showed an unprofessional lack of care in his comments, and the university should be embarrassed by the incident.


About A. J. Atchue