Students at BYU-Idaho are not learning one of the truly essential skills needed to navigate this world we live in: the art of the political debate.
BYU-I is getting a new president, and this is the perfect time to begin to remedy that problem.
We now live in a society where everyone is vying for the law to work in their favor, usually at the expense of others. Learning how to competently debate and stand up for one’s own interests is vital to not being taken advantage of.
Frederic Bastiat, a 19th century French economist, predicted, in his book The Law, that a society such as ours would naturally evolve once the people realized law could be used to benefit themselves.
“Because it is not the voter alone who suffers the consequences of his vote; because each vote touches and affects everyone in the entire community; because the people in the community demand some safeguards concerning the acts upon which their welfare and existence depend,” Bastiat wrote in his book.
This is the world we live in. Everyone is fighting for those safeguards. Everyone demands that the law acknowledge their rights. It is for this reason that we at Scroll believe it is time to allow students to form political associations on campus.
One of the most important reasons we are here at BYU-I is to learn to become disciple leaders. We at Scroll believe allowing students to participate in open political discussions and to align themselves with political associations is one of the key tools for students to become leaders after graduation.
Only 36 percent of Americans can name the three branches of government the Constitution created, according to a 2014 study from Annenberg Public Policy Center.
We at Scroll have no reason to believe that BYU-I students are any different. But they need to be different.
President Clark Gilbert recently visited Scroll. One issue he discussed during his visit was the threat religious schools could face in the near future.
In order for students to face those threats head on, they first need to have the ability to artfully and intelligently argue their side. Campus political associations would teach that, and they would do it in a way that is the very spirit of the BYU-I Learning Model.
The Learning Model, which every student at BYU-I is familiar with, is based on three pillars: Prepare, Teach One Another and Ponder and Prove.
When it comes to understanding politics, there is no better way to follow the learning model than through student-run political associations.
An article from the Association of American Colleges & Universities stated, “Universities have a responsibility to provide students with an education in active democratic citizenship.”
Campus political associations would require no more from the school than places to meet and debate, and, perhaps a faculty member or two to moderate discussions.
We at Scroll acknowledge there are various groups, such as Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science organization, the Political Affairs Society as well as others. These are fantastic groups but are mostly geared towards students in specific majors.
We want Democrats, Republicans, Constitutionalists, Libertarians and Green Partiers, of every major, to have a place to discuss, to debate, and most importantly, to learn how to become leaders in this world we live in.