As I’m sure you’ve all heard, because you read every article in the Stute, the naming issue surrounding the new Academic Gateway Complex has been settled. Maybe. Hopefully. As President Farvardin stated in his email to the Stevens community, “both parties have kept the best interests of Stevens,” which should be the top priority. Becuase Stevens desperately needs the money in order to continue its upward trajectory, and no one else offered the same amount or more in donations, there really was no other option. While the Stevens community was extremely divided between either the lone name of ‘Gianforte’ or no name on the building, the board of trustees was able to make a third option that met perfectly in the middle. Simply by adding the word family, the issue was swept under the rug.
This makes me curious though, will students in 4 years actually know who the Gianfortes were? The only name on an academic building I recognize is Babbio, and I really didn’t know that much about him until I went back and did a good amount of research. The best guesses I have for other buildings on campus are past Stevens presidents, but I’m not even sure. Honestly, I would be quite impressed if four years from now if any students would remember this incident and exactly what happened, as the name of the building becomes more and more irrelevant over time.
That’s part of why the SGA response felt a little unnecessary. To be as frank as possible, I don’t really care what the SGA has to say. Farvardin’s response was the only necessary one, and it went on long enough, to respond to anything that may cause concern. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the SGA was involved in the committee representing student the body, but it’s like a broken record just repeating what was said in a slightly different, more opinionated fashion.
What Gianforte did was entirely wrong and should be outright condemned by everyone. You never have the right, under any circumstances to strike someone first, unless there is a clear and present danger to either you or someone else. In this case, striking a reporter, although he was extremely aggressive and was wrong in how he behaved, that does not mean that he deserved to be assaulted. However, the guilty party was still able to admit to wrongdoing and make amends both in and out of the courtroom. Had it not been for this situation, I would likely not be writing this article as the issue was settled prior to the assault, and in my opinion, the name of the building would be slightly less awkward sounding.
Gianforte has his right to free speech, no matter what that speech may be. In this case, Gianforte donated to multiple causes that many in the Stevens community believe to be against our values as a school. But does that mean that we do not value free speech, our first amendment right (emphasis on first) above anything else? This gives us as people the unique right to be as right or wrong as we may please, with a few limits, and those limits do not include “hate speech”, only slander, libel, or direct threats. Gianforte did not break any of those, so he has the right to speak.
But being wrong in the public square can lead to some positive change. Afterall, as Milo Yiannopoulos says, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” If you are wrong and people know it, there is no way they would support you. Maybe if those who oppose Gianforte actually brought him here to speak to the student population, there would have been a much different outcome. Perhaps he would have convinced people to support him, or maybe his followers would have turned their backs. I’m not here to argue whether or not his policies are right or wrong. It’s important to remember the words ‘Republican’ and ‘conservative’ are far from synonymous. I am only here to say his name should be in that building as per a conservative perspective.