Sen. Campfield,

To put it quite frankly, you are an insult to the higher education system.

It's entertaining to watch Gov. Haslam fight for a more educated Tennessee only for you to defy this mission at every turn. I'm not even talking about your views on sex education.

Government exists to help people. Period. There is no other purpose. You committed to a speaking engagement at the University of Tennessee this Friday, and then you cowardly canceled because you couldn't filter the questions so that they would positively reflect your political agenda. This event was sponsored by the College Democrats and Republicans, a truly bipartisan effort meant to educate students about Tennessee government. In light of our country's extreme political polarization, this was a great step forward.

Really, the fact that college students were willing to engage in discourse with you speaks to the intellect and open-mindedness of UT students, students that start organizations to open dialogue about issues that people just don't want to face. Your continued ignorance of your constituents makes Knoxville look bad. You present an image of Knoxville that appears cowardly and backwards, an image that does not at all reflect the innovation and creativity going on at UT.

You have to know somewhere in the back of your mind that you won't win this one. Maybe it's me being idealistic, but I believe that if enough people think something is wrong, government will be forced to listen. SB1608 and SB2493 are wrong. They attempt to limit the whole point of college: exploring and learning and preparing to enter a world that could use a little more understanding, a little more compassion, a little more exposure to ways of thinking that are not our own.

In the grand scheme of American politics, Sen. Campfield, you are insignificant. And yet, your ignorant thinking may just serve as the catalyst to propel Tennessee forward into a new era, an era not defined by the ignorance of a small-time politician, but by a people willing to challenge their preconceived ideas for the greater good of the university, the state and the country as a whole.

Enjoy your Friday night.

Best,

Claire Dodson is a junior in English​. She can be reached at pdodson@utk.edu.