The April 18 action by the OWU faculty members should be reversed immediately. Although OWU, as a private institution, is well within its legal rights to be as secretive as it wishes, closing the doors of its faculty meetings is not only detrimental to the university community’s ability to function, it sends a message of elitism and paternalism to the students. The faculty’s action demonstrates that the university’s mission, as described on the website, is either hypocritical or out of touch with the mindset of those who purport to educate OWU students.
In part, the university website states:
Ohio Wesleyan provides them [the students] with a bounty of interconnected experiences—across disciplines, across cultures, even across continents. After our students graduate, we expect them to be insatiable problem solvers—and agents of change….
We are active and engaged with the world. We have thoughtful opinions, big ideas, and we share them in a rich campus conversation….
If the faculty members actually believe in providing a “bounty of interconnected experiences,” they cannot fail to note that their action demonstrates that they believe students do not understand the concept: The faculty members have shown that they believe students are incapable of synthesis, are incapable of understanding anything beyond the confines of the classroom, and therefore will not understand the implications of the faculty action. Faculty members apparently also believe that students are incapable of understanding what economics professor Bob Gitter means by a “chilling effect” on discussion. What Gitter means, of course, is that the students’ role models are too craven to express their opinions in an open forum – a lovely lesson in evading accountability.
“Rich campus conversation,” indeed.
Arthur L. Ranney, Ph.D.
OWU Visiting Professor (1989-1990)
Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Contact: 608.330.1950 (mobile, preferred)