Kennedy is a Microcosm of Millenial Civics
I could use these 500 words to talk about Mark Kennedy as a politician, a businessman, or an academic. I could mention that his voting record, in reference to Brian Keegan’s article titled, “Mark Kennedy is a Mediocre Ideologue,”“more extreme than 90% of post-World War II Colorado representatives along the second nominate dimension.” I could mention that “3 of the 4 firms in which he held executive positions either went bankrupt or were subject to hostile takeover during or shortly after his role there.” I could mention that “he terminated the University of North Dakota’s women’s hockey team after publicly promising he would issue no further cuts to the athletic budget.”
However, I’d rather talk about what this election means for us as a community. In the end, the selection process hasn’t changed, we have. Despite being criticized as hasty, the presidential search process was traditionally executed. Over many months, CU hired a search firm and a community committee, issued bias training, and emailed students asking for feedback as far back as December. We simply didn’t have a name until April 10. For better or for worse, these are the civic roles being created for (or manifested by) students: less front-end engagement and more back-end reaction. We don’t care when people turn the stove on, but we care when we get burnt.
Over the many decades of CU presidential elections, Kennedy was the fourth consecutive sole nominee for presidency and the third consecutive conservative Republican. If insanity is repeating the same action and expecting different results, our leaders are going insane. With the advent of technology, we will never again be so charmingly fooled. We can Google Kennedy’s CV. We can read CU Boulder Professor Brian Keegan’s scathing Medium article. We can play back-to-back Denver Open Forum clips of Kennedy saying, “I think it’s the role of a university president to not engage in politics” and boasting about his promise to an immigrant on the UND campus to provide his personal lawyer in the event of deportation. The problem isn’t that Kennedy isn’t telling me what I want to hear. The problem is that I have no idea who Kennedy is and whether or not to believe him.
I want a president who initiates instead of reacts. I want a president on the forefront of social issues, not one who still stumbles through pronouncing the LGBTQ+ acronym. White, cishet men deserve a level of patience and forgiveness as they learn about their privilege, but by no means will I afford Kennedy grace as he assumes this journey publicly.
People can change, but after a certain level of opposition, it should become someone’s moral obligation as a leader to decline their nomination. It’s up to us to escalate that level of opposition. Do our research, contact our regents, and submit a response on the CU Presidential Search Feedback page. After these decades of rinse and repeat, we have the ability—right here, right now—to try and set a precedent. What do we want it to be?