When editors at Mount St. Mary’s student newspaper, the Mountain Echo, decided to run a quote from an email chain written by the university president, they lit a fuse:
“This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies…put a Glock to their heads.”
Context: According to the article published by two Mountain Echo writers, Catholic university Mount St. Mary’s President Simon Newman sent out an email about a plan to administer a survey at St. Mary’s student orientation with questions addressing “key factors that determine motivation, success and happiness.” The president’s office developed the survey.
The president soon followed up by explaining the “short term goal” of the survey is to increase retention rates by dismissing 20-25 first years within a month of their arrival, based on responses to this survey. The dean, assistant provost and others soon became privy to the email chain and advised the president against going through with the culling.
Shortly thereafter, some dissident voices were silenced. The president fired the paper’s advisor Ed Egan for what the university stated was a violation of “code of conduct and acceptable use policies.” The president fired a tenured philosophy professor who opposed the policy for a “breach of loyalty.” He asked for and received the provost’s resignation.
After a whirlwind of national media attention, followed by some waffling on his claims, the president wrote a letter to the editor detailing the plan more thoroughly—and the Echo published it. The Mount Echo editorial board also responded directly to its part in the media attention, ultimately stating, “We stand with the Mount community as pursuers of truth…”
Here at the University of Dayton, the mission statement reads, “The University encourages its members to judge for themselves how institutions are performing their purposes, to expose deficiencies in their structures and operations, and to propose and actively promote improvements when these are deemed necessary.”
Thirty University of Dayton faculty members and grad students signed against the actions of the Mount St. Mary’s president and in support of this mission.
Regardless of how this situation unfolds, we, the members of the Flyer News editorial board, pledge our support of the Mountain Echo editorial decision and those UD faculty and students who have signed their support to pursue truth despite the powerful actors involved, and we restate our own dedication to the pursuit of truths in the Dayton community.