Facebook follies: Political activism at UNH (original editorial, posted Feb. 28)
One of the school's countless boards and panels is the UNH President's Commission on the Status of Women, which has spent 40 years fighting for equal educational and employment opportunities for all UNH women. At least, that's what its mission statement says. But there's no evidence that females are systematically barred from classes or university jobs. If that should happen, remedies are readily available. But task forces never declare victory and disband, so new missions are needed.
Has the commission identified broadly-popular causes that will benefit all women in the UNH community? You be the judge. Here's a sample of its recent Facebook postings:
- A petition demanding the Obama administration force religious employers to provide birth control. The link is introduced with a command: "Take action now!"
- A repost of NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire's call for direct pressure on state legislators to end "extreme attacks on women's basic health care."
- A Huffington Post story with the headline "Crazy NH lawmakers in the news." (It's acceptable to insult females if they're Republican.) A repost of a Jackie Cilley campaign statement.
- An invitation to sign a Nancy Pelosi petition distributed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
- A photo from Rachel Maddow of five males who were insensitive enough to testify at a congressional hearing on birth control.
- And a link to a column entitled "Santorum's stone-age vision of women."
One-sided political activism through social media can be a legitimate tactic for private organizations, but not for a public institution. The university's administration cannot deny responsibility for these angry partisan polemics. After all, the panel's name begins with the words "UNH President's Commission".
Under the pressure of budget cuts last fall, President Mark Huddleston and his top aides promised to tighten all university operations and focus on increased revenues and service to students. That job obviously wasn't done effectively. By using staff time to advocate divisive political causes on the Internet, UNH is damaging its own credibility at a critical time.