The University of Wyoming will hold a commencement ceremony in the near future where it will unveil a building named after former Vice President Dick Cheney – a center designated for international students and international studies. The plan has drawn a fair amount of criticism from members in the community and even some trickling national interest. The university has used $3.2 million donated by the Cheney family during Cheney’s vice presidency in order to construct these facilities.
Despite Cheney’s past foreign policy decisions and his controversial support of torture and interrogation strategies at Guantanamo Bay, keep in mind the purpose of this building. Along with additional donations, the contributions from Cheney (accrued during the past several years) have been used to construct an educational center for international students. These are young individuals who have taken it upon themselves to undertake the efforts involved in getting an education in the United States. They are attempting to better themselves and create career opportunities, all while immersing themselves into a completely new culture, as well as attempting to adopt and observe these newly found norms.
Additional money will go toward the efforts of study abroad experiences for University of Wyoming students. They will have the opportunity to develop their own thoughts on international relations, foreign policies and perhaps even be exposed to viewpoints outside of the U.S., which characteristically tend to be quite different than our own internal reflections.
Now, certainly Cheney has not left the best legacy, though history will be the only judge of whether his joint policy decisions with former President George W. Bush were necessary. However, these decisions should not preclude the possible opportunities for young minds to further themselves. Certainly the way to combat unsuccessful decisions in the past is not to limit education. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his policy decisions, a generous donation has provided a great opportunity for the university.
Furthermore, the center has nearly finished construction. To return the $3.2 million would be a ludicrous financial move for the institution, which would draw far more criticism than this current issue. While a scant few oppose the dedication of the building (150 signatures were collected in one year, according to the Associated Press), the possibility for a large number of students to gain new international experiences is worth far more than any dispute about a name on a building.
Matt Boaz is a senior political science major from Edmond, Okla.