Dordt College and the Political Campaign Season: An Open Letter to our students, faculty, staff, alumni, constituents, and community from Dordt President Erik Hoekstra
- Posted Thursday, January 21, 2016
- Updated Monday, January 25, 2016
I have lived in Sioux Center since 1997, sometimes working at Dordt, and sometimes working in the private sector. We’ve never had as much candidate contact in a national election as we have had the 2016 election cycle. We’ve also never had our students as close to the action. Early in the year, our Political Science Department invited all candidates in both parties to come to campus for our inaugural conference on presidential politics. Both of our students’ political organizations have also invited all of the campaigns to visit campus. As a result, so far this school year, students have been able to see, on campus, the following candidates: Carly Fiorina-R, Rick Santorum-R, Bobby Jindal-R, Lawrence Lessig-D, and Ted Cruz-R. Marco Rubio-R will be on campus January 16, and Donald Trump-R is coming to campus January 23.
Each time a candidate comes to campus, I have a certain sense of “cringe” for what it says to our students—political speeches are always full of broad-brush promises about what the candidate will do. There isn’t a candidate or party that can be 100% biblical or reformational—at least it seems that way to me. Opening our facilities to political candidates in no way implies an endorsement of their views.
Our choices are:
1. To invite no candidates and have none of them on our campus
2. To allow every candidate in good standing with their party equal access to our campus
3. To pick and choose those who are worthy of having access to our campus and those who are not
We’ve chosen path no. 2. To fulfill our mission (equipping students, alumni, and the broader community to work effectively for Christ-centered renewal), this seems the best path with regard to political candidates. Certainly, option no. 1 would be to abdicate our mission. I don’t believe option no. 3 would be obediently responding to our calling as an educational institution. It would also violate our status as a nonprofit institution because it would be considered political speech.
We’re left with option no. 2. Our goal is to have Dordt students graduate with a commitment to be politically active and biblically obedient, which I believe can only be helped by having first-hand access to candidates. Part of that goal is for our students to be politically active with wise minds and compassionate hearts, which their four years at Dordt College will—by God’s grace—hopefully encourage.
In response to the concern we have received about the upcoming Donald Trump event: I certainly understand that allowing Trump access to our campus may seem to send a certain message to people near and far. It isn’t entirely positive for many people. However, I believe that the educational benefits for our current students are more important.
For those in our supporting community, we ask that you please join us in prayer for our students, and our country, that this season of politics will help God’s will be done and his kingdom to come.
President Erik Hoekstra