The University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have come under fire in recent weeks due to their choices of required texts. Maryland is facing potential lawsuits over a controversial play by the same organization that tried to take Chapel Hill to court due to its requirement that all students living on the College Park campus read segments of the Qur’an. College is about furthering education and opening students’ minds to other aspects of life and the world that were previously unavailable. Banning book selections based on the views of one group’s objections undermines the purpose of higher education.
The organization involved in these lawsuits believes that both universities are in the wrong: Maryland, for promoting homosexuality and encouraging empathy toward a sinful lifestyle, and Chapel Hill, for forcing anti-Christian text into the hands of impressionable college students.
UM ordered 10,000 copies of The Laramie Project, which focuses on the town’s reaction to the hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard, a resident of the community and a homosexual.
The controversy with Chapel Hill began when the university required all entering freshmen and transfer students to read Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations, a text that teaches the fundamentals of Islam in modern terms without touching on any anti-Christian rhetoric. It addresses the first teachings of Mohammed, widely used in Islam.
Both colleges offered a reasonable solution to those who did not wish to read the texts. A simple essay, explaining individual reasons for not completing the readings might have sufficed, especially since many students might object for religious reasons. Ultimately, the students matter most, and the decision to read these texts belongs solely to them. Universities and any outside organizations should respect that.