Phi Beta Cons

University Missions and Ideological Arguments

IHE has an interesting story about the impact of the planned expanded border fence on the University of Texas at Brownsville.  Apparently, the fence may actually run through the campus, leaving part of the university on the Mexican side of the fence — despite the fact that all of the university is on American soil.  Such an outcome certainly seems silly, but of course university officials don’t merely confine their comments to their (justifiable) alarm at having part of their campus literally walled off from the rest of the country.  No, they must opine about the idea of a fence itself.  They’re opposed, of course.  But why?  According to the university’s president, Juliet Garcia, the fence conflicts with the university’s mission:

To us, the idea of a fence is kind of aberrant behavior, and against what we have established ourselves to be: a place where we convene discussion and economic systems and languages and people, not separate them.” The fence, Garcia said, would conflict with the university’s mission regardless of whether it splits one campus from another . . . 

Ahh yes, that’s exactly what an open border is about: “convening discussions.”  While I don’t hold myself out as an expert on the University of Texas at Brownsville, I doubt that there was a single formal “discussion” on that campus that would be hampered by an actual controlled international border (assuming of course, the controlled border doesn’t bisect the campus).  Legal entrants shouldn’t have any trouble with a fence, and the university almost certainly doesn’t invite illegal entrants to its campus for “discussion.”  President Garcia is a citizen who supports an open border.  To give his words more public credibility, he couches his political position in terms of the university’s “mission.”  It must be nice to appropriate the “missions” of taxpayer-supported organizations to advance your own ideological arguments.   At any rate, if you want to see the university’s actual mission statement, you can read it here. It doesn’t have much to say about border control policy.