Karl Rove, former advisor to President George W. Bush, will deliver a speech for students, faculty, and members of the community on Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Centrum. There are many differing opinions on campus concerning Rove’s visit and how his politics will affect the campus’s reputation.
Sophomore Erik Hatlestad, vice president of Campus Democrats, said his views on Rove come from the exact place in which the controversy comes from as well. He believes Rove has had such a negative effect on this country and the world.
“Obviously I’m disappointed that people are willing to shell out money to pay for someone like Karl Rove, although I can understand why Concordia would want to play host to such a person,” he said. “No matter what the reasoning, I’m disappointed that our college will be stained with Rove’s presence.”
Junior Alex McIntyre, president of Concordia Republicans, thinks Rove’s visit to Concordia will be a great opportunity for students to engage in meaningful political discussion that they might not otherwise have.
“We put a lot of pride in our liberal arts education and I think open dialogue and an exchange of ideas from both sides is healthy for the campus,” he said. “After being a student at Concordia for two years, I fully believe that Cobbers will engage in a civil, intelligent debate and handle his visit with class.”
Senior Dana Rognlie said she wasn’t sure why Rove was invited to campus in the first place..
“I don’t think it’s good, I don’t think it’s bad,” she said. “I would like to see it more as an opportunity for people to really discuss him and the past near decade that he had a big hand in representing.”
Sophomore Christopher Damlo feels Rove’s visit to campus is not a good thing.
“Yes, he is a genius politician and knows how to achieve his goals. Yes, he is a successful and intelligent man,” Damlo said. “I just feel that he is far too one-sided, and is much too biased for giving an educational and beneficial presentation. Many people on this campus will drill him and most likely borderline interrogate him on questions pertaining to the Bush administration and its choices.”
Michael Bath, associate professor and chair of the Political Science department, supports Rove’s visit to campus, since Rove was very influential as President Bush’s primary political advisor.
“Whether piecing together Republican election strategies, or crafting coalitions in support of the president’s legislative agenda, he left his mark on American politics,” Bath said. “I’m hopeful that this event will serve as an important teaching moment at the college, allowing the faculty to explore with students Rove’s methods and accomplishments from a variety of political perspectives.”
Junior Ben Sand, president of Concordia Conservatives, said he knows the Concordia community will engage in a civil and intelligent discussion with Rove, as it is in our nature to seek out opportunities to become thoughtful and informed.
“The visit presents Concordia students with an opportunity to enter into an open dialogue with one of the most influential men in politics over the last decade,” he said. “The opportunity to listen to and question someone who has been the senior advisor to the president, as well as the White House deputy chief of staff, should be embraced.”
Sand also said those who disagree with Rove’s politics will have ample opportunity to boldly question him.
“I don’t see how political discussion of that sort can be considered controversial. Rather, I see it as conducive to learning,” Sand said.
Rognlie thinks the strategies Rove employed were manipulative and demonizing, “which is antithetical of democracy and indicative of the militarism of the party he does political strategy for.” She also thinks it’s possible no one will show up because it competes with “Take Back the Night.”
Despite the competing event, Rognlie can see benefits of attending Rove’s speech.
“I think it’s great if people go,” she said. “Just showing up would be a protest in my mind. That’s a hard audience to perform a canned speech for.”
Hatlestad said Rove is a man whose misdeeds and slander have cost this nation too much.
“The point of the matter is Karl Rove has done arguably some of the most disgusting things in U.S. political history,” he said, “and he has in part cost the lives of over a million people and furthermore has bogged down this country in a political discourse centered around idiotic arguments and who can shout louder.”
Damlo said Rove is a very conservative man who has been involved in many scandals.
“My own personal thoughts on Karl Rove, and I will be blunt: I feel he is an evil, manipulative, lying, cunning, little man and I personally do not think he should be here and representing our campus, because he does not represent me,” Damlo said.
Despite the fact that some people are getting very angry and emotional, Rognlie hopes people will be rational.
“I would hope that people could think of [his visit] as a democracy rather than a place to show violent uproar,” she said. “This could be a really great opportunity to have something good on campus happening even though so many people disagree with the existence of it happening on campus… there’s not anything we can do about that now.”
One thing Rognlie finds interesting is the lack of publicity on campus. She’s noticed the external community has gotten more information about the event than most people on campus.
“The lack of publicity is a form of censorship, especially when it’s scheduled at the same time of the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center’s ‘Take Back the Night,’” she said. “There’s no publicity, which means people can’t plan ahead, which means people can’t plan to go to Karl Rove.”
As both an alumnus and employee of the college, Eric Johnson, vice president for Advancement, said he is glad Concordia is the kind of place where all kinds of ideas find their voice.
“I don’t feel strongly about Karl Rove, one way or the other, but I am pleased that we can have a robust conversation about his ideas,” he said. “I would hope that we, here at Concordia, model the kind of lively but respectful political discussion that is so rare these days.”
As sophomore Amanda Follmer walks with her rugby girls toward downtown for “Take Back the Night,” she said she’ll be wondering what is going on at Karl Rove’s speech. She said she sees nothing wrong with listening to other people’s perspectives on issues, especially if a person is comfortable in what he or she believes in.
“A lot of people that I know are extremely for his visit or against his visit,” she said. “I have a lot of friends with differing views on the subject. While I do not agree with his ideals personally, I still believe that he has a right to speak. I just ask that he is respectful of our campus and the fact that we have individuals at Concordia that might not agree with him.”
Follmer said she has many opinions of Karl Rove, such as his beliefs and actions.
“I don’t agree with his political philosophy, nor the way he conducts himself in political situations,” she said. “However, I still believe he has a right to be heard. That is the beauty of the United States of America.”
I’m a senior at Concordia graduating in May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. Journalism is my life and my passion, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.