The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Xavier University’s decision to deny Barack Obama’s request to host a political rally on campus, as it did in 2008, is raising the ire of students. The school is now enforcing a blanket policy against hosting any campaign activities. If the school had been more prudent about this sort of thing in the past, they probably wouldn’t feel compelled to make a show of their equal opportunity non-partisanship now. Candidates speaking on campus is a good thing when it’s done impartially and doesn’t take on the aspect of a rally, which the 2008 Obama visit clearly was, featuring such luminaries as Mary J. Blige, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, and Sean “Diddy” Combs. So consider me somewhat sympathetic to the students. And despite what the school says, the IRS does not prohibit or discourage candidate forums or visits. Here’s a snippet from the story:

Campus campaign events are a staple of most campaigns. So after Xavier officials confirmed last week they declined to host President Barack Obama’s Monday Cincinnati appearance, Chelsea Rodstrom and other political science students collected more than 300 signatures on a petition. They plan to deliver it to university President Michael Graham today or Tuesday.

Declining such visits, the petition says, goes against “the core values which Xavier has instilled in us: to go forth being educated men and women for others…We find it incredibly difficult to believe that you would like us to be open and eager, to become informed citizens of worth and at the same time, prevent us from the unique opportunity of listening to the president of the United States and presidential candidate Gov. Romney speak.”

Xavier said it also opted against a visit by Mitt Romney, citing the American Council of Education guidelines against campaign rallies and events. Xavier’s “lobbying, political and campaign activities policy” requires that it make reasonable efforts to ensure candidate appearances constitute speeches or question-and-answer sessions.

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