Open expression of ideas | Letter to the Editor

Let’s remind Sens. Steve Erdman of Bayard, Tom Brewer of Gordon and Steve Halloran of Hastings about the old statement that all generalizations are dangerous, including this one. To brand all work of one instructor, a department, or a university over one incident, is at the least, stretching logic, and at worst an insult to the open exchange of ideas characterizing the University of Nebraska throughout its history.

The three senators wrote a letter that accused the University of Nebraska-Lincoln of mistreating conservative students.

As a UNL faculty member and emeritus, I’ve experienced UNL’s student environment with the greatest of interest since 1957. Student actions included the short lived and facetious panty raids to extensive, deeply felt Vietnam War protests.

A wide spectrum of organizations have sought memberships on campus — ranging from the Marxian-Socialist Club to the John Birch Society — and all stripes in between. The initially persuaded student members learned the rules of where they could contact students and hold forums to make their sales pitches for membership.

When I saw tables and exhibits, there were committed members nearby to support the promoters when confronted by naysayers. Few incidents denied free expression of different views.

Unfortunately, we’re losing the civility to exchange our philosophical and political views in respectful open forums, hearing out views of others before offering information supporting our contrasting opinions. Regular town halls by our legislators have deteriorated, reducing meaningful citizen input to our public servants.

We hope members of the Nebraska Unicameral will help us foster and protect that continued free expression on our University of Nebraska campuses and by faculty serving every county — for the intellectual growth of our citizenry.

Lavon Sumption, Lincoln