A Poor Commentary On The State Of Tolerance At The University Of North Dakota

ed schafer

In today’s Grand Forks Herald Mike Jacobs writes that former Governor Ed Schafer is an imperfect selection to be the interim president at UND.

Jacobs, who does admit that Schafer is probably the best choice for the post, is certainly entitled to his grumbling. What struck me was this passage from his column complaining that Schafer had referenced his religious affiliation in a recent profile with Herald reporter Anna Burleson:

Schafer’s explicit Christianity might also be off-putting on a campus that values inclusiveness and diversity. He mentioned his faith in an interview with the Herald’s Anna Burleson after his appointment was announced last week .

He’ll need to remember that UND is a diverse place, with many races and many religions represented there.

You can read Burleson’s profile here, including the brief area where Schafer mentioned his faith in the context of talking about how he met his wife Nancy. “She very much taught me how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” Schafer told Burleson. “She brought me out of the doldrums into the light.”

That’s it. That’s the sum total of Schafer’s talk about religion in the entire profile, unless you want to count the humorous anecdote about Schafer stealing a Christmas tree from an administration building when he was a UND student, though I’m not sure that counts.

What, exactly, is Jacobs objecting to? And why would Schafer acknowledging the fact that he’s a Christian be off-putting to “a campus that values inclusiveness and diversity?”

If Christians have to hide their light under a bushel at UND, how much can that campus really value inclusiveness and diversity?

What’s ironic is that Jacobs, unwittingly I’m sure, puts truth to one of the major complaints about campus culture these days which is that it’s dogmatically leftwing, closed minded, and hostile to outside influences. A safe space, I suppose, where academics can indoctrinate their students free from influence of nasty conservatives who might make casual reference to their Christian faith.

I think Jacobs is accurately describing how things are on the UND campus. I’ll give him that much credit.

Schafer will “need to remember that UND is a diverse place, with many races and many religions represented there,” warns Jacobs. Of course, a less blinkered observer might say that the UND community, if it truly values inclusiveness and diversity, ought not judge their new president based on his religious affiliation.