Not My University: Why I’m Not Okay With Mike Pence Coming To Lee University - And Response (6)

Friday, July 20, 2018

As a student of Lee University, who is well-aware of the Lee administration’s more conservative stance in politics, I am upset about Mike Pence visiting the university and being welcomed on our campus. Although I respect that Pence is in a position of authority as our nation’s Vice President, and that he likewise deserves the right to hold his own opinions in regards to the issues of our nation, I believe he stands and promotes stances which are harmful to the student body of my university as well as to the citizens of Cleveland, the community which has opened its arms to us. 

Lee University claims to be a religious institution founded upon principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Additionally, Lee’s core values include “an uncompromised commitment to the sacredness of human life (regardless of its location on the globe) and to justice, the provision of all that is needed for creation’s flourishing” (“Core Values”). Again, Lee’s statement here is based on the idea of promoting human life—all human life-- and the justice which is necessary for individuals to thrive. Mike Pence has frequently invalidated these statements. His harsh communication in regards to members of the LGBTQ+ community have isolated individuals, demeaned their existence, and condemned their identities.  Furthermore, his severely anti-immigration stance has perpetuated the division and non-inclusion which unjustly invokes fear and anxiety in immigrants to this country. His staunchly conservative perspective on multiple issues, although he has a right to hold it, furthers American nationalism in the name of Christian values.

None of Pence’s actions seem to emulate the values Lee University vocalizes that it holds. The sacredness of human life which Lee claims to uphold is constantly denounced by Pence as he seems to value certain human life as more valuable than others. If Lee truly promotes justice, as it asserts, it would argue against the patterns of injustice constantly promoted by Pence and our country’s current administration. However, in allowing Mike Pence on our campus, Lee directly endorses Pence’s views and disregards the diverse perspectives, thoughts, and identities of its student body. Although Lee has issued a statement saying that they frequently feature individuals of different perspectives, they have never allowed a distinctly political and public figure to use our campus as a launching pad to promote specific political and nationalistic agendas. Pence is a high-profile member of authority and as such holds significantly more power than most of the individuals Lee welcomes on its campus. While Lee may invite individuals who hold personal beliefs that are more progressive, it does not commonly promote less conservative political activity or progressive perspectives with such authority as allowing Pence access to campus does. Furthermore, the direct endorsement of a political figure shifts Lee’s focus from promoting Christ to promoting American nationalism. The gospel is not American. The gospel is global, and Lee has frequently argued for its global stance with statements such as the one quoted above. Thus, by endorsing and promoting an American leader with nationalistic values that promote only the wellbeing of one, small sector of human life rather than human life broadly, Lee fails at its proposed agenda. 

Mike Pence has consistently failed to promote the sacredness of human life by invalidating diverse perspectives, promoting extreme immigration policies, and obliterating individual’s identities and experiences. This is not what the Lee University I chose to attend stands for. Although I highly respect those in leadership, both at Lee and within our nation’s government, I believe that endorsing a government official by allowing him on this campus likewise endorses his behaviors, his policy, and his beliefs. Lee University by allowing Pence on this campus then declares to its community, its nation, and in many ways, to the globe, that it endorses anti-immigration laws, the invalidation of LGBTQ+ individuals, and transmuting the gospel as an advocate for rampant nationalism. This significantly isolates the diverse perspectives within Lee’s student body, and fails to recognize the legalistic image this sets up for the Cleveland community surrounding the university. 

Regardless of the conservative stances of Lee’s administration, advocating for a specific political agenda in this overt way without recognizing how it might influence the student body or the community relations in Cleveland destroys Lee’s reputation. Although I am but one individual, I believe there are numerous members of Lee’s student body who feel isolated, devalued, and angry about this action Lee has taken. Inviting Mike Pence onto our campus is not representative of the Lee University I know and dearly love; this action is not my university. 

Elise Haynes

* * *

So Elise, because you don't agree with Vice President Pence you believe he should be "uninvited"?  Because he's the VP he doesn't have the same exact rights as you?  Freedom of speech doesn't exist for anyone who doesn't agree with you?

I'm not sure where you're from but this is the great state of Tennessee where everyone "usually" lives and lets live.  I applaud your intense desires but I would also like to say I applaud your ability to allow others to have their own; unfortunately I cannot do that with regards to what you've posted.  This is America and regardless of what major media has told you most Americans DO believe in legal immigration, and most Americans could care less who you love or who loves you.

Am I worried that folks in Cleveland will have an adverse opinion of Lee after Saturday?  Not a bit and neither should you. Bradley County (unfortunately for you) is chuck full of believers who follow their hearts and not the media. 

Many of us watched Lee build and expand, we drive by daily and appreciate the beauty of the campus and the hundreds of students walking by or doing their morning runs.  We never see masked faces, protest signs and nasty slogans.  The students are proof positive that they are there for an education and not to make national news.  I'm proud of those students and they will one day run this country, I'm hoping you will sit down and re-read your constitution and realize every American citizen has the same rights written in that document.  Opposing opinions aren't dangerous, oppressing those opinions is.

Sue White

* * *

So I see that the days of universities being institutions of higher learning and critical thinking are over.  Historically universities were places you could attend and hear diverse opinions on a variety of topic and draw your own conclusions as to which were valid, while simply disregarding those that you did not believe in.  Today it seems that universities are nothing more than liberal indoctrination centers as there are only two forms of acceptable discussion on most campuses, the liberal/socialist anti-capitalism, open borders, and anti-religion indoctrination or the second type (anything doesn't fully espouse the liberal/socialist agenda) which is therefore labeled racism, xenophobia, or one of a dozen other isms. 

I have yet to hear, however, from any of the newly indoctrinated liberals any concrete explanation of why we should have no enforcement of our borders or any control of who does or does not come into our country.  I have - unlike a lot of the newly indoctrinated liberals- been to several other countries and I can assure you they do not have open borders and you certainly aren't entitled to healthcare and welfare when you break their laws. 

The only exception would be a couple of the countries which President Trump so eloquently described (which are not that much different than many of the large metropolitan areas in the U.S. ran by liberals).

Mark Maynor

* * *

Ms Haynes, you said it in your first sentence, it’s not your university. So just don’t attend. Instead try reading the First Amendment through a few times. 

There’s a very chilling movement occurring in colleges across this nation: free speech is my speech and anything else is to be banned. I’m certainly glad you and those who think like you didn’t draft the Bill of Rights. And I’m glad I didn’t attend a university where people like you wanted to hide in safe spaces or ban any ideas with which you disagree. I believe that is tyranny.

Ralph Miller

* * *

First of all I commend you on your ability to express yourself in writing. You do not state whether you are local or if you came to Lee from out of state. Cleveland, Tn. dotes on the attendance and  local residence of students as part of its economic existence and livelihood.

I became familiar with the Cleveland, Tn., community when my older son attended there and my younger son lived in the Cleveland area for a number of years. The community at large is accepting of the diverse culture at Lee University. The community also seems to accept the LGBTQ+ lifestyles by and large.I have several friends in the LGBTQ+ community from across the region. I could provide a list if asked.

I Identify as a fundamentalist Christian which has often been associated with a resistance to the LGBTQ+ community. However, I personally do not stand in judgement of anyone since I will not be responsible for their final disposition in relationship with God (not assuming they have or want one). Besides, arguing  with someone who does not believe in the divinely inspired authority of the Bible
is a waste of oxygen, time, and and brain cells.Lee University certainly does not limit its student population to "Christians" or right wing conservatives.

My understanding of VP Pence's personal Christianity is limited since I have not had the opportunity to sit down and discuss it with him. He defines himself as  having a conservative, christian, moral based world view (this is the most basic and inclusive self statement I could find for him).

In terms of the immigration views of VP Mike Pence and POTUS Donald Trump, They are both against illegal immigrants and immigrants that would come to the USA with the intentions of inflicting harm on its citizens. A sovereign nation without secure borders is not a sovereign nation. Previous administrations have conducted the limitation of immigrants from certain countries at different times. Google videos of President Clinton and President Obama talking about illegal immigration and our
borders. While you are at it, check similar video speeches by democratic leaders on those subjects. You might find it enlightening. Most everyone agrees that our country needs comprehensive changes in our immigration policies and laws.One of the four legs  of the Obama election campaign was "comprehensive immigration reform". He had political majority within his administration yet failed to accomplish the promise.

Over the years that my son attended Lee I discovered that some of the professors there were definitely progressive in their views of conservative or fundamentalist Christian viewpoints regarding the Bible. However, I am not aware of any public outcry against their teaching and personal beliefs. I don't know if the school has illegal immigrants enrolled or not. If so, are they getting grants or other funds that you might benefit from  as a legal citizen? You might want to check that?

As far as our current administration being more nationalist than global, that was a campaign promise which they have worked hard to fulfill. I believe the slogan is "America First". Let me help you with that. America has always been first--first to fight, first to help, first to give, first to respond where others would not or could not. We have propped up the world for so long that we  became weak in our ability to do so. America has sponsored and sent missionaries [from all denominations] to the four corners of the earth, knowing that some of them would be targeted for imprisonment or death or both.

But wait,  there is even a simpler way to understand why America needs to be somewhat more
national than global for a period of time. Suppose that you and your child were on board a commercial jet at 30,000 feet. Without warning the plane suddenly jolts and shudders violently. Imagine that the cabin begins to fill with smoke. The oxygen apparatus drops from overhead. What is the instructed action for you, the parent and adult, to follow? You should put on the oxygen mask, THEN place the oxygen mask on your child. Seems backwards doesn't it? If you, the parent, place the oxygen on the child first, and in that process black out, who will be the one to protect your child? If the plane makes an emergency landing or crashes, who will make sure your child exits the plane as safely as possible? America desperately needs some oxygen, or we won't be around to save the world when disaster strikes. America cannot support legal and illegal immigration both. We have been creating an additional "welfare state" for too long. It is draining every resource we have. San Fransisco is seriously considering allowing illegal immigrants to vote in local elections. That is quite a smack in the face of our democratic voting process if we allow foreign nationals to vote, especially in light of the  uproar over the Russians (foreign nationals) trying to influence our last Presidential election. BTW, lets not forget the cyber attacks by the Chinese, North Koreans, and Iran.Lets also not forget that our last POTUS openly sought to influence a top election in Israel.

Finally, I can definitely point you towards two choices that that you have open to you. Lee University
will gladly assist you to locate and transfer to a school that supports your particular views. A school that you can more readily call "your university"--Probably West Coast or North East regions? I am also sure Lee University would allow you and any like minded individuals to participate in a peaceful, campus approved protest. Check campus guidelines on that first please.

One more suggestion I might make: Make it a point to read Genesis chap 19 and Romans chap 1.
You may have to work your way through several different versions of the Bible before you find one that represents your particular beliefs. Tolerance and truth are spelled and defined quite differently Ms. Haynes. Tolerance is being demanded in our society while common sense and truth are trampled upon. I do hope you can forgive me if I have mistakenly identified you as Ms. Its a total assumption on my part and no harm was intended. At 61, I'm not up on the Z's yet.

Ted Ladd
* * *
The opinions of Elise Haynes regarding why the Vice President should not speak at Lee University make me wonder if the school's tenants of traditional Christianity have changed. Inviting Mr. Pence to speak on campus is not what is "destroying Lee's reputation" and it doesn't "further American nationalism in the name of Christian values." Quite the opposite, Pence's visit is a tremendous honor for Lee.

Haynes' message sounds like the same liberal dogma commonly found on state universities and colleges nationwide, so, if her opinion is widely held, it's hard to understand what makes Lee any different. Why would Christian families sacrifice to pay private school tuition when their students can be indoctrinated by liberalism at a lower cost elsewhere?

Maybe Lee, like state schools elsewhere, needs a safe space with blankets, cartoons, coloring books, warm cookies and milk to shelter those who are upset when Pence speaks.

I guess colleges -- maybe even Cleveland's own Lee University -- really are no longer where young adults learn how to deal with  points of view that differ from their own.

Morgan Smith

* * *

Brevity is not in Else Haynes vocabulary I believe.  First she talks about Vice President Pence has a right to visit the university.  Then she say Lee should not have invited him because she is upset about his views on her core values. 

She then says the community had opened up its arms to us.  Concerning what I wonder?  She doesn’t believe in the laws of the land concerning immigration and I would  believe she would consider open borders if she could.  She talks about LGBTQ individuals, obliterating individual’s identities and experiences and other rambling ending with the statement that this is not the Lee University I choose to attend.  I have an idea.  If you don’t like it, leave it…..You need to go to some California campuses where they do not let any conservative talk without riots and tearing up their campus in protest marches. 

Richard Elrod 


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