By Stephen Schwager and Eddie Speir (This account is from Stephen Schwager’s perspective outside the Board Meeting that Eddie Speir was attending.)Thanks for reading Eddie’s Substack! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work. High-energy, quite-good music greeted our arrival at the rally preceding the Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, March 26, 2023. About three dozen people gathered on the steps of Hamilton, waved homemade placards with a variety of interesting slogans and phrases, and moved to the music. We sat at a table under an umbrella for a few minutes and a student asked politely to join us. Another student riding a long-board wearing a dress circled and stopped to greet the other student, and the two hugged and chatted about their pronouns and identities.
I’ve learned something crucial: these people, the ones screeching about Nazism and fascism, are sincerely not interested in conversation (their accusations give lie to their claims of a willingness to listen). I’ve taken them at their word--their supposed desire for dialogue--multiple times and been genuinely shocked by their unwillingness to engage in anything other than the usual insults and denigration, the pettiest of insults and most extreme forms of dehumanization. I’m not going to give them that benefit of the doubt anymore. I sincerely love and respect them--from a position that is, ultimately, beyond my capacity as a mere mortal. I find this strength in Christ. May they find the same peace. But this is no longer a simple matter of disagreement--it is a war on a higher level. And, at some point, you have to embrace the hatred they send your way--to acknowledge that, in the most powerful of kingdoms, you’re battling for something more meaningful than mere campus reform. I am truly glad to have the opportunity to fight this battle--and I’m not anywhere near the prospect of surrender.
Here’s my takeaway having watched a student be inundated with hatred and called horrific names merely because he is a traditionalist. There is a nasty, crude bunch of adults and a smaller nasty loud wing of students here at New College who cannot admit defeat. Because no matter how much they rudely curse those in power, or yell during board meetings as if they are at a wrestling match, they reveal their essence: an ugly inability to accept the loss of control of New College.
End of story. They act like a hive of wasps that have been hit and therefore attack, as if hurting assures victory. It doesn’t. It’s over.
Frankly I cannot believe the legislature let a college fall this far out of line before acting. Out of line means not being able to maintain enough students to keep the school viable! But this college did not keep the financial situation viable and they are paying the price for failure. It’s that simple. You can’t tell by the slants in the media, but that’s not factual. That’s politics.
A conservative administration has decided to act to save a small college. Allow old-fashioned true Western Canon values and traditional courses to become the essence of New College. At New College, the numbers show a rejection of politicized courses because there are not enough students to keep open the school. Let’s see what a return to independent, apolitical scholarship and rigorous academic programs can produce for honors students here . That’s not Fascism! That’s a return to the nobility of Reason over the ugliness of a coming dark ages.
It's rich for any supporter of the electorally ambitious DeSantis, and his publicity-stunt takeover of a good public liberal arts college, to decry hyperbole in objections coming from folks who were at the college before. If you want serious hyperbole, check out New Trustee Rufo's nonsense about Critical Race Theory. (Read about how Rufo minted himself a meal ticket by creating a scandal where there wasn't one in Benjamin Wallace-Wells great NYer piece, https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-inquiry/how-a-conservative-activist-invented-the-conflict-over-critical-race-theory)
Also, how about getting details right (the kind of thing taught by good liberal arts colleges)? About Hillsdale College and its remarkable Civil War record, the OP above says
"No other college or university in America had a higher percentage of students who wore the Blue and fought to free the slaves and preserve the nation." But Hillsdale's own website says "A higher percentage of Hillsdale students enlisted during the Civil War than from any other western college." I think that in 1861 there were many colleges & universities in the Northern States beyond the "western colleges."
And some basic knowledge of the horrors of the Civil War would help -- the kind of thing a decent US high school education should provide.. The OP says "15% did not return to school after eradicating slavery and the Union victory in 1865. Those sixty young men were killed in action." But it's well known that a huge share of Civil War deaths came from disease. And thus the Hillsdale site says: "Sixty gave their lives." Giving their lives was a terrible sacrifice to the war, but boasting that all sixty were killed in action might just be hyperbole.
Eddie, I don't like to communicate with you on this forum, but your memory is selective. At the BoT meeting, of 54 public commenters, a dozen or so faculty members spoke. All of them gave careful, temperate, and persuasive arguments, mostly about tenure, but also about good practices that will draw new students to the college. Another dozen or so students spoke. Of them, two used bad language. The rest were reasonable and heartfelt, mostly in support of their professors who were coming up for tenure. How you could fail to remember their statements, much less be moved and persuaded by them, is beyond me. Several parents spoke in reasonable and temperate language. The rest of the commenters were from the community. In contrast to previous BoT meetings, they were mostly reasonable and heartfelt and temperate in their language. The most notable sin was going overtime. As you note, maybe 6 of the 54 speakers made comparisons to fascism. I don't like glib comparisons and most of those 6 were over the top, but one carefully listed certain Nazi policies toward higher education that should make you think twice. Regardless, your overall description of the public comments is very inaccurate.
I am your non-student, adult speaker. To be precise what I said was that is that , “ for some of you out there, existing, just existing as who you truly are is an act of bravery. For the faculty that continue (to teach)….is an act of courage that humbles me” However, now that you mention it, the bravery of the LGBTQ+ community DOES humble me.
That does not detract from (or for that matter have anything to do with) the obvious bravery of the 1861 student-soldiers at Hillsdale College. There is no equivalency.
Hillsdale is clearly not the same school it was in 1861. Hillsdale accepts no federal funding, as is their absolute prerogative. New College does, and is bound by federal law.
"There were, of course, the predictable recitations of Woke tropes and dogmas, like 'cis-gender patriarchy,' 'white supremacists,' 'Christian nationalists,” “colonialists,'" so you agree that people who denounce white supremacy and colonialism are "woke"? aka the people you are actively fighting against? not a good look for you bro.
Hey asshole, maybe don’t tell a Jew what is or isn’t trivializing the genocide their grandparents experienced.
The irony here is pretty thick.
The authors of this post asks us if these adults are “purposely hurling mendacious propaganda to frighten, anger, and activate younger, highly impressionable students? …this facile, nonsensical sophistry is causing actual harm. Othering an ‘enemy’ and filling people with fear of and rage against said ‘enemy’ is a common cult tactic and has no place on a genuinely tolerant, open-minded college campus.
It’s almost as if you forgot your own words written in the “Woke us a Religion” post a few weeks ago:
“Wokeism will exist permanently in a perpetual revolution, tearing down, replacing, and tearing down again. And this is what makes the woke religion so dangerous and destructive. It cannot be reasoned with, compromised with, or satisfied. It consumes all, over and over again, in cycles of never-ending trials, purges, revolutions, and, ultimately, wokeism lays waste to society.”