Right and responsibility

Rebecca Chopp

As this issue of The Maroon-News appears, we are eleven days from a Presidential election that some people have described as one of the most important in our nation’s history. My response is that each Presidential election is one of the most important in the nation’s history. But in terms of its significance for today’s Colgate students, there is no disputing the fact that, for virtually all of you, the election of November 2, 2004, will be not only your first opportunity to vote for your nation’s leader, but also your one opportunity to vote for President while you are an undergraduate. The right to vote also bears a responsibility, and as each of you thinks about how you will exercise your franchise for the first time in a presidential election, I hope you will also consider this an important moment in your education for a long and responsible life. In my view, one of the real purposes of your liberal arts education is to prepare you to become an informed and thoughtful citizen. Voting is an essential act of citizenship in a democratic society. At its core (pun intended), a Colgate education helps you acquire a worldview. It teaches Colgate men and women to consider issues from many vantage points: to think about the potential consequences of any course of action. Expressed another way, in the context of your Colgate education, I hope that the act of voting in this important Presidential election will force you to consider the common good. There’s a strong case to be made that, in a democracy, we are always striving to balance the whole with the self, to measure our own successes in the light of their impact on the larger community. Don’t miss this opportunity to vote, and when you do vote, use your Colgate education and vote your conscience.