Some SMU students and faculty seem to fear that the library would make the university ideologically one sided (like it isn't already?) making faculty hesitant to be there. I found the comment by the student lamenting the possibility that more conservative students might come to the university and make it ideologically more conservative interesting. So much for the diversity of ideas in academia.
Faculty also seem to fear that the library would threaten academic freedom. Probably by inviting academics who held favourable views of the President as opposed to their own unfavourable ones. The faculty claim that they want respect for positions across the spectrum. However, they can't seem to muster any respect for positive views of the President to the point of not wanting his library associated with their university.
One professor claimed that the library would make the university partisan. This story indicates to me that it has already happened.
Clearly the faculty and some students see the library as just one more infringement upon their freedom by the evil Bush administration. How dare he want to build a library at a school, the fascist. These people appear willing to cut off their noses to spite their faces.
This controversy has been brewing for sometime. In December a faculty memeber was quoted as saying this:
Objections to Bush library mount at Texas universityShe's worried that non-wealthy non-Republican parents and students would be afraid of the Bush presidential library? Not to worry ma'am. I think you and your colleagues have effectively registered your aversion to the wealthly Republicans. I can't imagine that they would feel welcome in your presence (if they found your approval of their presence necessary for their academic success). Such elitist snobbery. I wonder how the wealthy Republican alumni feel about all of this.
[Susanne] Johnson [an associate professor of Christian education] said that there are also real problems with the message the library could send. SMU historically has had a reputation for attracting wealthy students — a reputation that the university has tried to fight in recent years by offering generous scholarship to low-income students. "I think it might be a setback in terms of trying to attract a different constituency among students," Johnson said. "Children of wealthy, leading Republicans in this state come to SMU, and then they are groomed here to become Republican leaders in all sectors of society. We shouldn’t be in the business of just replicating Republicans."
Some who aren't so caught up in their dislike for President Bush or Republicans aren't so bent out of shape about the library,
Southern Methodist University President Responds to Bush Library ConcernsMany who are opposing the library online are trading in the old Bush is stupid stereotype as well as the Bush is evil, unethical, running the country into the ground, destroyer of all freedom, spawn of satan, mastermind of world domination stereotype. They can't seem to make up their minds about whether our president is a blathering idiot or an evil geneious. Protest at SMU Targets Bush Library, see the comments.
SMU student body president Taylor Russ said he doesn't see the library as a promotion of Bush politics.
"It has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats," he said. "It about history; it's about our country."
All in all, I am not at all surprised by this dust up. Academics may be smart but they aren't always very wise.