Breaking Free from the Darkness of Gender Ideology
Thank you for pointing out that the state legislature intended to shut New College and, without the work of a few alums and the governor, the college would be over at the end of the school year. Most students, parents and graduates are intentionally blind to this cold hard fact and carry on as if the party can continue as is without meeting any criteria for effectiveness laid out by the state.
As for Gender Studies, I agree that as the courses are currently composed leave students with a wholly inadequate education. They appear to be completely taught from a feminist and queer theory perspective even though the overwhelming majority of the world is neither feminist nor queer. It makes no sense. However, as females outperform males in education, already out earn them in major cities and as greater and greater numbers of parents outsource childrearning responsibilities, we are going through major civilizational alterations that deserve examination. I'd rather see New College students get a comprehensive education in Family and Gender Studies as related to psychology, sociology, economics, history, biology and neurology, than the boutique and obscure discipline that currently exists at New College.
I hope that all of the school's courses focus on healthy civilization-building in all of its disciplines. To ignore the massive changes taking place between males and female and within families at this critical time would be an opportunity lost.
Mr. Speir, how do you reconcile what you've said here with the fact that, before the hostile takeover of New College was announced on 1/6, NCF was primed to welcome an incoming class 30% larger than the most previous class? It was only after the board takeover, the firing of Patricia Okker after less than two years in office, etc., that the incoming class dropped to such a level (only 1/3 of the number prior to Jan 6) that Interim President Corcoran now has to offer what is essentially a $10K bribe to potential students. President Okker was never given a chance for her initiatives to bear fruit, and yet you have the audacity to blame some amorphous concept of "Wokeism" for NCF's low attendance? Why not call it what it was: poor leadership from Okker's predecessor and the consistent inability of the school to get any help from Tallahassee? I know you need a boogeyman to point at and feel good about vanquishing, but "Wokeism" is so overused and is such a catch-all now that it's lost all meaning. The school has a lot of issues, true, but those are tangible issues such as deferred maintenance. You instead chose to wage a crusade against a make-believe CRT/DEI/Woke/Gender Studies monster, and to do so, you offer $10K bribes to prospective students and start an athletic program that *checks notes* NOBODY ASKED FOR. And don't think we don't see you trying to funnel your Inspiration Academy kids into NCF; after all, your first mention of NCF baseball saw you flanked by your own ballplayers, not interested NCF students. To be clear, I don't place any blame or vitriol on your baseball players but I do think it's tacky to use them as staging elements for your own ambition. After all, a permanent sports pipeline from IA to NCF increases IA prestige and puts more money in your pocket. Rather a conflict of interest, isn't it? So don't act like you're a bunch of saviors coming to slay the Woke dragon and bring "classical" education to NCF. You're a tool being used by the governor to create a shiny prop for his presidential run, and you stand to profit personally from it. Plain and simple.
Do the enrollment numbers take into account the "red-flag" scandal that caused so much grief with incoming students in 2019?
The president back then resigned, leaving the post open for the new president, who took office in 2021 and has just been replaced.
There you go again. You got nothing. Tell us, which of the following sample of offerings do you imagine enhancing with your new wonderfully substantive offerings? And give us a hint about your approach to doing so.
Advanced Greek: Euripides' Cyclops
Advanced Latin: Horace, Satires
Advanced Latin: Pliny, Natural History
Ancient Rome: History and Legacy
Electricity and Magnetism
Frontières: Écriture de l’Engagement
Greek and Roman Lyric Poetry
Greek and Roman Medicine
Introduction to Genetics
Lines of Sight: Poetry and the Visual Arts
Literary Movements of 19th-Century France
Modern European History: 1640–1870
Modern European History: 1870–Present
Modern German History OR
Object Oriented Programming
Organic Chemistry I: Structure and Reactivity
Organic Chemistry II: Structure and Reactivity
Organic Chemistry Inquiry Laboratory
Politics of Health Care Policy in the U.S.
Power and Public Policy in the U.S.
Proust’s In Search of Lost Time
Realism, Surrealism, and Expressionism
Rural Politics in the United States
The Middle Ages: The Birth of the Modern World
Urban Politics and Policy
World War II France in Film and Fiction
How very surprising that your swagger is accompanied by exactly no engagement with substance. I'm pondering just what lessons from history we see playing out when someone with nothing substantive to offer says "sit down and shut up." Because I do think we've seen this before.
A college that supports one way of thinking is not a college, it's a club. A club for like minded people. Full of like minded people. Now that sounds great but you still need other ideas. Other voices. Different thoughts. But as long as those colleges are turning one sided, those other thoughts and voices will be silenced at all costs. The majority won't care.
This essay is returned to you for revision. You might need to review your classical rhetoric class or general composition. I suspect there may be the germ of an idea in there, but this draft didn't accomplish communicating it. You are sort of all over the place in a pretty predictable manner.
First you begin with an "a friend of mine said" quote that's arguably false and this is the premise for much that follows. That's fine for a speech at a barbecue or after dinner at a charity gala, but if you want to be taken seriously, the thing you start with should be true and be something your readers will recognize as true.
First of all, gender studies at New College is an interdisciplinary program, not a discipline per se. And it's been way for almost three decades. Institutions that leave something as a program that draws on faculty from across the campus are pretty explicitly saying "the college is not built around this activity." Everybody in higher education knows this. It's the same in most places. There's a lot more going on at that school than gender studies. It really just does not stand out in the landscape of higher education on this score.
Then your argument says "any college organized like that is doomed to failure." So we have a false premise and an appeal to "evidence" that's not supplied. And no actual argument as to why such a college would be doomed to failure. Institutions specialize in all sorts of different things - some thrive and some don't. What is the evidence that particular emphases doom institutions to failure?
After this you go off into debating someone you previously engaged with and use that to criticize a whole category of folks that your interlocutor may or may not have any association with. Remember the phrase "one paragraph, one idea." And you try to make point with "ad hominem attack" but this swipe, "typical of woke lefties," is pretty much the same sort of rhetorical move. Suggest cutting this.
Then you head down this path: 2017 plan to increase enrollment with a plan endorsed by legislature; 6 years later bad results; conclusion: "this plan" caused the decline. This plan that in a previous sentence was approved by legislature but in this sentence it's "doubl[ing] down on DEI and Woke." Except you haven't demonstrated that and it's an empirically suspect claim.
Next you say you are committed to maintaining low student-faculty ratio. I believe that was part of the plan all along. Nothing new here. Is the point to curry favor with opponents or something else?
And then we get something we see frequently in your essays: repeating a single anecdote over and over and over. Do you know why this is a bad rhetorical move? Do you know why certain folks resort to it more than others? It's usually because they have an interest in elevating the exception over the rule. The actual data is "things like this rarely happen" and folks who are threatened by that find juicy stories that stand out because they are exceptional. It's a "one time, at band camp..." move. It does not say "credibility."
And then the fully predictable "and that's not all, we've heard this more than once!" followed quickly on with "there's a bigger threat out there, I'm only here to help." Classic claims-making move - and an effective way to suggest "we have evidence" while avoiding the burden of actually providing evidence (with a denominator). If you know something is common and frequent, show it, don't mumble "and lots more!"
And then we get your conclusion, which is that anyone who questions the moves you make and the directions in which you point is a "woke naysayer" whom you admonish to engage in self reflection on their failures. Except, do you see how you haven't actually established that the failures are the failures of the woke thing?
If you are inclined toward being an intellectual or a scientist or a rational analyst, you should not be satisfied with these sophomorically simplistic claims that wokeness caused a decline in applications to New College. You'd look around the country and see small colleges everywhere struggling. You'd probably stumble across research that shows that high school students don't reject a college because of things it does have, they narrow their search on the basis of finding schools that do have particular majors/programs/features. And on and on. Point being, the logic of your reform agenda doesn't really make sense. It's based on a flimsy foundation in terms of why it's needed and, frankly, you've offered zero in the way of an argument as to why the changes you envision might improve outcomes on metrics we care about.
On the other hand, maybe it does make. If your goal is to take from what is one of top academic institutions in the country in terms of the quality of its students and its alums two things - a reputation and a campus - and then transform it into something else, namely a tiny second rate regional school with sports teams that play in tier 4 conferences with athletes who aren't good enough to be recruited or admitted to larger schools, a school that can be the upper division to regional junior colleges for students who cannot get into larger state universities and private institutions.... Well, that might well be possible.
Oh, and that picture you've used as the featured image: isn't that Aristotle suggesting to Plato that being grounded in facts and empiricism matters? Which side do you come down on?
I will write a full response to the highly inaccurate implications being made about our philosophy program. In the meantime I encourage readers to check out what we actually do. All my syllabi are on my website. My colleagues’ syllabi aren’t too hard to find. Don’t rely on a single student’s very partial testimony.