Political lesson for UMass chaplain
September 23, 2008
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst hardly has a reputation as a hotbed of political activism. But now a chaplain's electioneering has landed the flagship campus squarely on the partisan fault line.
News that a UMass chaplain had urged students to campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama - and told them volunteering could earn them course credit - ricocheted through the political blogosphere yesterday, an immediate flashpoint for conservatives who rail against the school as a liberal bastion.
In an e-mail to students last week, chaplain Kent Higgins told students they could earn two independent study credits if they campaigned for Obama in New Hampshire, the Associated Press reported yesterday.
"If you're scared about the prospects for this election, you're not alone," Higgins wrote. "The most important way to make a difference in the outcome is to activate yourself. It would be just fine with [Republican candidate John] McCain if Obama supporters just think about helping, then sleep in and stay home between now and Election Day."
University officials said that there is no such independent study program and that Higgins was not authorized to promise students credit.
"There is no independent study for credit in the history department that involves partisan political work, and no such activity has ever been approved," said university spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.
Higgins recently approached faculty members in the history department about a program involving political campaigning. They approved the proposal but then found out that Higgins initially only contacted Obama supporters, before contacting McCain supporters as well. The department then terminated the project.
Higgins, who could not be reached by the Globe for comment, told the Associated Press he never intended the program to be limited to Obama supporters. "We have to be bipartisan," he said.
Love the last line! "We have to be bipartisan"........LOL! Someone needs to endow UMass with a dictionary so this clown can look up the definition.