“Everyone carries a part of society on [her] shoulders; no one is relieved of [her] share of responsibility by others…everyone, in [her] own interests, must thrust [herself] vigorously into the intellectual battle. [None] can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether [she] chooses or not, every [woman] is drawn into the great historic struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged.”Ludwig Von Mises
Evita Duffy embraces this quotation with her entire being. As a thoughtful University of Chicago student and a proud American, she willingly carries a part of society on her shoulders—and she does so with poise. When conversations become difficult and our campus becomes divided, Evita does not stand aside with indifference. She cares about our community and recognizes that the decisions we make in these college years matter. They matter in the present moment, and they matter for who we become and the world that we shape after we graduate.
Rather than be demoralized by the divisiveness of current campus rhetoric, Evita speaks when few are brave enough to do so. Evita is an ardent supporter of the Chicago Principles and the Kalven Report. She champions those who embrace intellectual diversity. And she has thrown herself “vigorously into the intellectual battle” of our time. More than that, Evita is brave. She is kind. And she’s the type of strong woman who you want on your team.
For these reasons, my choice was easy: when confronted with the possibility of writing in a candidate to fill the position of College Council representative, I immediately wrote in Evita. She is now in a run-off against one of our peers for the fourth and final Class of 2022 College Council seat. The tie-breaking votes will be cast by College Council on Tuesday, October 20—and I encourage this year’s representatives to vote for her.
Evita was thrust into the epicenter of campus discourse last year, following her participation in a digital initiative by the Institute of Politics. When asked to describe why she votes, Evita wrote the following on a whiteboard: “I vote because the coronavirus won’t destroy America, but socialism will.” The drama that ensued has been outlined by a number of our classmates, this newspaper’s own pages, and Evita herself. By now, these events are old news—but that does not make them irrelevant. For daring to challenge campus orthodoxy, Evita was threatened with physical violence and harassed. It even became necessary for her to obtain a “no contact directive” against one of our peers.
When Evita was repeatedly mistreated and abused for her participation in the IOP’s initiative, she did not cower in silence. She did not overreact. She responded as any thoughtful UChicago student should: she owned her words and she defended them in the marketplace of ideas. She wrote an op-ed bravely accepting the title that social media had assigned to her. “I Am the IOP Whiteboard Girl,” she wrote. Evita did not allow those who mistreated her to steal her voice, nor did she become a victim. Instead, she maintained her calm and she stood up for herself.
My purpose in rehashing previous events is not to resurface old partisan debates. Rather, for those who presume to judge Evita’s character from a single whiteboard, I’d like to set the record straight. At any given moment, Evita is tasked with writing two articles for The Federalist, reading countless history pages for class, and following a complicated itinerary of sibling babysitting and work travels, but she always slows down to ask her friends how they’re doing. Evita does not balk at a challenge. She calmly rearranges her schedule and asks how she can help the team. And she ardently pursues her journalism career, while simultaneously celebrating the successes of her friends.
Confronted with the sheer force of campus orthodoxy, most individuals would have walked away from the conversation. There would be no shame in doing so, but Evita does not walk away. Instead, Evita remains committed to reforming campus discourse, in order to embrace diverse voices. Fully aware of the obstacles she has already faced and will continue to face, Evita and I chose this summer to launch this newspaper together—in the hopes of defending the Chicago Principles, by providing a platform for conservative and libertarian voices to finally speak, and productively engage, across campus. When asked whether she wanted to join the Chicago Thinker, Evita did not hesitate. She was ready, as always, to engage with our community.
In short, I have had the privilege of working alongside Evita, throughout college. As the managing editor of this newspaper and a fellow leader of the University of Chicago’s College Republicans, Evita is my colleague. More than that, she is a friend who never ceases to rise to the challenge.
One conversation with Evita always remains in my memory. We were toying with the logistics of getting an apartment together, and I sheepishly told her that I am vegan. Evita’s response? “Okay, then I wouldn’t bring meat or dairy into the apartment.” I would never demand that of a roommate who does not follow my specific dietary restrictions, but Evita did not even skip a beat. She is so conscientious that the thought of the inconvenience to herself did not even cross her mind.
A vote for Evita is not an endorsement of politics per se. Of course, College Council elections are inherently political, but this election is about so much more: it is about nominating our peers to leadership roles, such that they may better our campus community.
On Tuesday, October 20, you—our 2020 College Council representatives—will get to choose whether or not to embrace Evita as a team member. For the betterment of our campus community, I strongly encourage you to do so.