Contribution from the Creating Inclusive Community Group
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson spoke at the University of Dayton arena at the “Viva La Vita” event hosted by Dayton Right to Life on Tuesday. Two days prior to the event, Carson stated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” According to CNN.com, when asked if a president’s faith should matter to voters, Carson responded, “I guess it depends on what the faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and [is] consistent with the Constitution, no problem.”
It is important to note the three constitutional requirements for a president: be a natural born U.S. citizen, be at least 35 years of age and have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years. Nowhere is there a religious requirement; in fact the Constitution’s Article VI specifically states, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Carson’s religious intolerance in political discourse raises concern for those committed to making our nation a more inclusive one.
Carson’s recent anti-Muslim statements are troubling as it relates to the University of Dayton’s Commitment to Community. While his comments have been extensively covered on national news and social media sources, our UD community has not yet addressed his anti-Muslim statements. As a student body, we must question how Carson’s presence in a UD space relates to larger issues of Islamophobia, xenophobia and intolerance.
Choosing to remain silent while Carson speaks at the University of Dayton arena relates to the on-campus tendency to selectively define community. According to the “Diversity and Inclusion” section under the provost’s subpage of the University of Dayton website, UD’s institutional mission “calls all of its faculty, student and staff to intentionally honor the dignity of all persons” in order to engage in the “building of a progressively more diverse, inclusive, and robust learning and living environment.”
Carson’s comments seem to contradict these core values and raises questions about how UD is living its Commitment to Community. How should we as students respond to Carson’s opposition to having a member of the Muslim faith serve in the nation’s highest office? How should we respond to his presence at the UD arena? What type of message does this send to both our domestic and international student population? As a college committed to diversity and inclusion, we should be open to addressing these questions. It’s an important conversation that needs to be continued amongst University of Dayton students, faculty, staff and members of our administration.