Saturday, August 16, 2003

How much advocacy is permitted? 

Continuing a trend we saw here in Minnesota, faculty and staff at the University of Alabama are being encouraged to lobby for higher taxes. In a faculty and staff online publication, they are being encouraged to put money into a fund to help the campaign for an initiative that would add $700 million in higher taxes. I always find this sort of thing embarassing: Universities using their publicly-funded positions and resources to lobby for more public funding and resources. The Alabama Scholars Association has posted information on this as well (scroll down to "Other News".)
Faculty and staff of the University of Alabama received a letter from President Robert Witt, urging them to support Governor Riley's tax package by calling state legislators (May 2003). The ASA expresses disappointment. Witt should not use his office for partisan political purposes, or to imply that state employees should support a particular political proposal. It is quite possible to be a "good" citizen and to disagree with the governor's agenda. Witt should acknowledge this, and provide an equal opportunity for opponents of the Riley plan to express themselves through the university's "Capstone e-letter."
Best I can tell, that equal opportunity has either not been granted or not been taken advantage of. Meanwhile, Witt is running pro-tax materials in every issue. (Hat tip: Liberty and Power.)