Wednesday, February 13, 2008

William and Mary president out

(Editor's note: This post was moved to the top since I believe it takes highest importance)

Today is Wednesday, which was about to become my traditional "soft news" day, where I talk about something random. But something more important has happened today, and I will talk about that first. If I have time, the soft news post will come later tonight.

Today's blog post focuses on Gene Nichol's removal as president of the College of William and Mary. To tell the story, I turn to a better source, my friend Christen Crocker, a student at W&M.

-The school wants to canonize him and everyone outside wants to crucify him. Some outside the school are saying it was a good thing they fired him, because he was anti-Christian (Wren Cross) and he allowed 'degeneracy (the sex workers' art show) to come and demoralize the students'

But Wren Cross was overblown. He should have not tried to make a unilateral decision, but most of the Christians didn't care that much. The sex workers art show put him in a no-win situation, and he did ban nudity. Plus, it was the student assembly who brought it here.

On the other side, he was shady about a donor who withdrew $12 million because of Wren Cross, and all of his mistakes brought a lot of bad publicity for the school.

The funny thing is all of the more "liberal artsy" classes, such as modern language, philosophy, art, etc. are cancelling class. All the hard sciences are saying that's the way the world works, and wondering why would we shoot ourselves in the foot by canceling classes to prove a point at an institution of higher learning. The dichotomy is comical.

I think the student body and professors generally like him, but a lot of people are letting emotions get the better of them and making really outrageous statements. Some minority students are now saying they don't feel welcome or safe if he's not here. I'm not sure where they're getting that as we were not racist before he came, although he has definitely worked hard to promote diversity

I don't necessarily disagree with the decision, just the way it was carried out. The Board of Visitors were under pressure to fire him and so they held our Charter Day weekend and lauded him, ate with him, etc. Then at the end told him they weren't renewing his contract AND offered him hush money to say that it wasn't an ideological difference, which is awful.

In his exit last night, Nichol did well in encouraging the students to continue learning and to leave their mark on the school as a way of doing something for him. He added that he did not want what is happening to cause minority and lower socio-economic status students to leave. --

There will be no "My time is up" ending here, because today's post is not my work.

Thanks again to Christen for this. Statements from President Nichol and board member Michael K. Powell are available here on FreezeFire, and can be found here for President Nichol and here for Michael K. Powell. You can also scroll down to find the statements.

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