APSCUF endorses Josh Shapiro

Professors discuss the challenges of talking politics in the classroom

Published by Matthew Glover, Date: September 9, 2022
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The APSCUF Committee of Action through Politics (CAP) has endorsed Josh Shapiro in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race.

CAP analyses Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate candidates and endorses them based on how their interests align with public higher education.

“Josh Shapiro is both pro-education and pro-labor,” Dr. Jason Hilton, SRU-APSCUF chapter president, said. “His opponent has made clear that he plans to attack the rights of employees to bargain collectively and to drastically reduce funding for public and higher education.”

Shapiro was ahead of Doug Mastriano (R.) by 7.3% in the most recent poll according to fivethirtyeight.com.

While one of CAPs jobs is to assist APSCUF members in making informed political decisions, the professors involved are careful not to project those opinions upon their students.

“We really shouldn’t be promoting one candidate over another,” Dr. Michelle Amodei, the elementary education and early childhood chair, said, “but we can make students aware of who they are and give them resources about their policies and what they stand for.”

It’s very easy for students to make assumptions about where we stand on issues, she said.

This can be exacerbated by the idea of university “indoctrination,” which SRU professors don’t want to be automatically lumped into. Professors recognize and celebrate the diverse beliefs across campus.

“Our faculty includes members of both major political parties as well as a significant number of independent voters,” Hilton said. “Just as we work together across political differences, we welcome the opportunity to work with students who represent the full diversity of political ideologies as well.”

Students can often be offended when they encounter an idea that’s very different from what they believe.

“If a professor said something that’s in any way against what a student thinks,” Amodei said, “sometimes that can be taken as being threatening or the whole indoctrination thing.”

Professors are free to discuss their subject in the classroom but should avoid introducing controversial topics that don’t relate to the course materials or outcomes, Hilton said.

However, in many cases, discussing political issues is part of the material and does advance students’ understanding and course outcomes.

Some students enter SRU with no political knowledge at all. Sometimes they’re not interested, and sometimes they’re just discovering how politics impacts their lives.

Others come in already well-educated on the issues they care about and are ready to inspire change.

It’s not just on one side of the isle either; it’s both, Amodei said.

With this melting pot of ideals is bound to come adversity, but professors are careful that each student feels respected no matter their beliefs. Amodei and Hilton both said this has never affected their ability to teach, and students are very respectful and care about sources.

“Disagreement and dialogue are the cornerstone of a democratic learning process,” Hilton said. “Challenging conversations are a necessary part of that process.”

Professors also care that their students can evaluate sources effectively and research multiple sources before forming an opinion.

“I wouldn’t direct anyone to Fox News, nor would I direct anyone to MSNBC because they’re very different ends of the spectrum,” Amodei said. “I want to make sure that our students leave with the ability to discern good information from bad information in all areas of life.”

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Matt is a strategic communication and media major with a concentration in converged journalism and a minor in political science. Matt enrolled at SRU as a junior in the spring 2021 semester and contributed to The Rocket before becoming the news editor in fall 2022. Before that, he wrote sports articles for The Penn at IUP. Matt spends his free time playing music, socializing with friends, and playing with his cats, Max and Odele.

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