Here's the skinny: The Board of Visitors (I never understood that term - shouldn't they be members or something?) of The College of William and Mary (which I believe is the 2nd oldest college in the US) told their president that his contract would not be renewed this summer. So he quit. Students (the media would have you believe all of them) and some faculty are protesting with sit ins and cancelling classes for a couple of days.
Why all the hubbub?
Well, the prez did a couple of things to tick off the BOV, not a few alumni and hordes of old fashioned Americans who just don't get it.
First, he removed the cross from the historic Wren Chapel, citing tolerance and religious sensitivity and diversity. Later, after much protest from alumni (some with deep pockets) he reluctantly compromised and placed the cross back in the chapel encased in glass.
Second, he allowed the students to bring in a Sex Workers Art Show, where prostitutes and strippers and porn stars came on campus to enlighten the collegians. BTW, it drew a huge crowd of hormonally charged young adults. He did not step in and stop it because that would have been censorship.
A few observations.
- What was he thinking in both instances? Wren Chapel, completed in 1732 was built as a place to worship the Christian God Jesus. From the College web site, "The clergy of the Church of England in Virginia adopted at a convention "Several Propositions" for founding a college to consist of three schools: grammar, philosophy and divinity. On July 25, 1690, Lieutenant Governor Francis Nicholson authorized several gentlemen to take subscriptions in Virginia for the proposed college, and on the same day the clergy issued an appeal for financial support to merchants in England who were trading in Virginia." [Emphases mine.] That's it's historic context. You really can't change history, try as you might. If you want to be inclusive of other faiths on campus, build another come one, come all chapel.
- My guess is that the College is governed by the BOV and is not a democracy, nor is it a mobocracy. Sure, the students have their constitutional freedom of speech to voice their protest, but soon you either move on or move out. You're there to get an education, not set policy. If you don't like how the school is governed, go somewhere else next semester. You have that right and freedom, too.
- While I'm sure that on and off campus sex is pretty free in Wmsbrg and that you won't have to knock on many dorm doors before you'll find porn being viewed on a laptop or TV, I'm also sure that parents haven't sacrificed financially to send their kids to a school where the man in charge buries his head in the sand and allows illicit sex to be openly promoted to impressionable youth. But then, they say Nero fiddled while Rome burned.
- If Nichol's goal was to make W&M the Stanford of the East Coast, well, he tried and failed. You're in Virginia, for Pete's sake.
- Sometimes what claims to be "progessive thinking" is nothing more than amoral license. Freedom without restraints is no different from restraints without freedom. Both imprison the innocent and naive.
*The College of William & Mary was founded by a charter from William and Mary, King and Queen of England as an Anglican institution; governors were required to be members of the Church of England, and professors were required to declare adherence to the Thirty-Nine Articles.