Friday, July 5, 2013

Weber State Speaks

The above is a link to a story in my formerly-local newspaper this morning about Weber State University's ill-advised, poorly considered decision to, it would appear, can a professor for objecting to the naming of anything educational (and state-funded) after Boyd K. Packer.  A pretty good piece, one that includes statements from a campus spokesman.  Of the things he said, two really stand out.

  • “Weber State does not make a decision like this lightly, and does not back away from the decision once it is made,"
Okay, what does that sound like to me?  It sounds like someone saying, "We are inflexible and supremely uninterested in any feedback or student body/community objections.  We've done all the thinking we plan to do.  So shut up, already."

  • “Weber State stood by that decision because of our respect of a wide spectrum of viewpoints,” (when referring to the creation of a Matthew Shepard scholarship years ago).
Okay, seriously?  This statement is a logical/moral nightmare, and, since I can't imagine Weber State has hired a stupid spokesperson, I can only assume it's intentional.  Comparing the creation of a scholarship in the name of a man beaten and tortured to death for his sexuality with the creation of a program (in the school of education!) named for a man who has routinely (and loudly) condemned homosexuals, interracial marriage, women's rights, academics/scholars (!), and has even spoken against counseling for children, arguing that, by focusing on a child's mental illness, we create or intensify that illness?  

Apples and ANVILS.  There is NO comparison, and shame on Weber State's spokesperson for even going there.  How embarrassing for him.  And for my Alma Mater.

Bottom line, Weber State?  You blew it when you decided to go with this Boyd K. Packer crap, and, worse, you blew it in secret--you didn't put this out there for consideration by the students and faculty at large.  You didn't look for community comment.  No, you made your decision in private, then announced it as immutable, a "done deal."  And then?

Well, gosh, it's kind of looking like you fired an assistant professor for having the balls to dissent.  Because, as we all know, nothing says "haven for learning and inquiry" like refusing to re-up the contract of a professor on tenure-track after he expresses concerns about something as huge as naming a program after a known racist, misogynist, and anti-intellectual.

From a personal standpoint, if this goes national (or international), my degree's going to be the source of much ridicule, I fear.  You know, I skipped my own graduation ceremony because you guys couldn't figure out how to craft a commencement ceremony that didn't look like a church function, and now this?  Maybe we should just drop all pretense and call you "BYU North," huh?

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