Op-ed Submission: How Wash. U. failed its students in hosting the debate

Patrick Koenig | Class of 2018

To set things straight, I thought that hosting the debate was a great choice by Washington University. I had a great time engaging with other politically inclined students, seeing the school represented on every news station and watching the sign I held on CNN trend on Twitter. At the end of the day, however, I believe that the University missed a chance to turn this opportunity for publicity and self-improvement into one that could benefit the nation, and in doing so, failed to carry out its responsibilities as an institution of higher learning.

The role of a university is to facilitate education by the open exchange of ideas. It is only by challenging our beliefs against opposing beliefs that we can become confident in those beliefs. This exchange of ideas, however, has not been a part of the debates put on by the Commission on Presidential Debates. These debates hosted only the candidates from the two parties that the leadership in this “nonpartisan” organization support. Other major candidates are kept out of the debate by a 15 percent polling threshold called “absurdly high” by political commentators such as George Farah, a number that is difficult to reach without the name recognition that inclusion in the debates could provide. By ignoring and not making a stand for the voices of over 60 percent of the nation who wanted the inclusion of third party candidates such as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, the University played subject to the system that does not operate for the good of all Americans, but instead the unpopular status quo.

Washington University’s motto is Per Vertitatem Vis, “Strength through truth.” We cannot be convinced that we are electing the strongest, best candidate for our country if the truth is being limited to the versions that the two major candidates share.