With all the discussion of the appropriateness of Confederate monuments and other historical displays, it’s important to remember that a fair and civil discussion is critical to any approach to what is, particularly in the South, a sensitive topic.
That is why, while we were pleased to see students at LSU voice their opinions on these issues, we don’t want them to stretch retrospective moral judgment into the university’s purely commercial activities.
A meeting of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at LSU’s campus hotel provoked the most recent student demonstration.
Cimajie Best, president of LSU’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the Lod Cook Hotel and Conference Center’s role as host to a group that celebrates the Confederacy sends the wrong message to students.
“It’s bad enough that we have buildings on campus named after Confederate soldiers, but I’ve come to the conclusion that won’t change in my lifetime,” Best said. “This is taking it too far.”
Best said she plans to file a complaint with LSU’s Office of Student Advocacy and Accountability, but we disagree with her contention that LSU is granting legitimacy to a group that is renting a hall.
The university wisely does not regulate non-university related functions. “Rental of an LSU facility does not imply any endorsement,” spokesman Ernie Ballard said.
Rather, the university ought to be a place of diverse viewpoints. It is a public place, created by taxpayers of past and present generations, and should be accessible for meetings of groups from across the state and the nation.
However strong one’s views about current controversies, the rights of free association are also part of America’s legacy of freedom.
Maybe it’s asking too much in these days of slapping each other with moral yardsticks, but we’d hope that LSU students would talk to those with other views. A quiet and respectful talk between the generations might build some needed bridges to the future.