Smart as a Whip  


By Malcom Reid

For the politically inclined reader, it may come as a rather pleasant surprise that Senator Dick Durbin will be on our campus Thursday, for a public address at the Institute of Politics. But whenever we see the actions of political figures and institutions, it is all to easy to be dazzled by credentials, and in our shock and awe we forget to ask, “Why is this important, and why now?” This is an important question to ask ourselves if we are to maximize these excellent opportunities and experiences on campus, and ones that, frankly, we are all too quick to overlook in favour of a PSET.

Senator Durbin, the Democratic Whip from Illinois, might bring to mind for many the Durbin-Graham Bill on Immigration reform, which was touted as a bipartisan solution to a massively controversial issue. The key points of this bill include the appropriation of $2.7 billion towards border security, an end to the visa lottery, and the permanent establishment of DACA, which makes a secondary purpose clear, viz. to try and return to an atmosphere of bipartisanship. No doubt many readers would have a strong reaction to some of those points, whether positively or negatively, but the emphasis for the purpose of the university would be on reaching across the aisle and collaborating with those whom one might disagree with.

It is hardly a secret that the partisan divide is wider than it should be, and that this has effects that seep into the rest of society, including on campus. Or, if this is a secret, it certainly has been very poorly kept, as many articles feature the tension between ideologues on campus, and it wouldn’t be especially difficult to find two partisans on campus bashing each other with rhetorical clubs at any given time.  

While the event’s description is rather nondescript, it would be very prudent of the college to move towards inviting guests who advocate for cooperation; it may even mark the beginning of other notable efforts by the university to bring our community closer. Granted, this would only be one half of Durbin-Graham, but it would be a start nonetheless, and one could only hope that soon we will see conservative more conservative advocates for bipartisanship, or even Senator Graham.

If, perhaps, your interest in policy is limited, and you’ve avoided obsessing over the twilight zone of politics, at the very least you’d be pleased to know that President Drew Faust will be there (and yes, the real one, not the Lampoon). And this only supports the assertion that this is a part of a series of very careful and intentional efforts by the university to make its stance clear, and to reform campus culture. After all, as a highly recognizable, if elusive, figurehead of the university, President Faust does have a habit of turning heads and making headlines with pointed statements and appeals.  Acting Director Delahunt will act as a moderator for this event, which no doubt will prove to be fascinating, and the only entry requirement is a valid Harvard ID, making this especially accessible.  

Malcolm ( is looking forward to seeing all of you at Senator Durbin’s speech.