With the announcement of Beto O’Rourke’s soon arrival at Texas State, a myriad of reactions ensued from the public — some were appreciative, while others were skeptical and critical of the newest adjunct professor.
The outrage to the announcement sparked a petition by alumni opposing O’Rourke’s arrival, stating his “radical and irrational behavior, including his extreme bias in regards to a democratic system” would be a nuisance in the classroom. The general fear is that O’Rourke will have a biased teaching method.
But having O’Rourke teach in the Department of Political Science is a privilege and an incredible opportunity regardless of biases and prejudices others may have.
Across the university, professors of all different subjects and departments undoubtedly have their own biases. This is natural. However, a professor is in place to educate, not inflict her, his or their own views on others intentionally — educators are around to teach students how to think critically and shape them for their futures and respective careers.
O’Rourke’s experience as a former U.S. representative and presidential candidate gives him a quality that provides an advantage to the students in the Department of Political Science. With hands-on experience in the world of politics, he has the ability to show his students what the real world looks like for a politician.
To sophomore and criminal justice major Destiny Fox, the opportunity to have O'Rourke teach on campus is a unique one that could bring more recognition to the university.
“I’m glad he is teaching at Texas State,” Fox said. “I think it’s great to have a well-known politician [teaching] a subject that he has experience in. I feel that having someone that ran for president come and teach here gives our school more recognition and credibility."
Fox is completely right. The course will allow him to teach from a place of experience as a former representative and candidate for the highest office in the land.
O’Rourke’s class, Texas Politics, is a political science elective. Alumni and parents should not worry about a course students have the option to take. Taking O'Rourke is not a requirement; there are plenty of undergraduate and graduate electives a student can take to earn credit toward her, his or their degree.
Political science junior CJ Cetina, who worked for O’Rourke’s campaign in 2018, also believes his arrival is a great opportunity for students.
“I’m pretty sure [a lot of those outraged] aren’t even [political science] majors,” Cetina said. “If you’re getting a politician, regardless of what party they are or of their ideology, I think that’s a great opportunity, especially if the person is teaching [political science].”
“I doubt we ask our professors where they stand politically,” Cetina said. “I think we all have had professors that are progressives, socialists, conservatives, moderates, libertarians—and as a political science major, I’ve had professors across the political spectrum. I really don’t care, honestly."
Cetina’s point has merit. It is difficult to believe English and math department professors are asked about their political views or where they stand on the political spectrum.
Political science students should absolutely be given the opportunity to experience and learn under a seasoned politician, and Texas State is taking the right steps to allow them to do so.
In fact, as associate chair and undergraduate program coordinator and O'Rourke's co-instructor Sherri Mora told The University Star, another section of Texas Politics will be taught by T. Vance McMahan, a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush, a well-known Republican.
Like McMahan, O’Rourke’s arrival should not be controversial because of his previous campaigns — it should be regarded as a great achievement and insurmountable learning opportunity.
Giving students the opportunity to take O’Rourke’s political science class does not mean Texas State is installing a democrat, leftist or liberal agenda. The McMahan hiring would not make sense if that was the case.
The hands-on experience O'Rourke can bring to the classroom is unparalleled, and students, along with their parents and alumni, should be grateful that such an opportunity is available.
- Valeria Torrealba is a public relations junior
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