Monday, February 1, 2010

Latest News

6 BOARD NOMINEES TABLED INDEFINITELY -- 6 potential trustees were submitted to the nominating committee of the Board of Trustees. Unlike many of the trustees that President Tom Lindsay recruited, all of them have fundraising experience, fiscally powerful friends in Chicago, are long time Shimer donors, and are either alumni, previous trustees, or previous faculty. On Monday, January 18th, for the first time in Shimer history, all of the nominees were tabled indefinitely. Their candidacy will likely be discussed at the upcoming board meeting.

TOM LINDSAY PROMOTES READER ARTICLE WITH PRIDE, CALLS THIS BATTLE "HIS TO WAGE" -- On Friday, January 22nd, a letter from President Tom Lindsay to Cato Institute Attorney Robert Levy was discovered by students and distributed around the Shimer floor. Lindsay, in reference to the Reader's recent article on Shimer, writes:

As a new college President, I know I'm doing something right when the left-wing media start screaming. As you will read in the enclosed newspaper article, my success at restoring civic education to the curriculum -- the core of which is the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Federalist, etc. -- has labeled me a "conservative menace." This is not going to deter me in my project for the reform of liberal education. Far from it. While this battle is mine to wage, I know that I am not alone.

HEARTLAND INSTITUTE PUBLISHES AD INDEPENDENTLY OF ADMISSIONS OFFICE, SHIMER STUDENTS OFFENDED -- Recently a Shimer alumnus discovered this ad in one of the Heartland Institute's publications:

Unlike in the past, Shimer's admissions office played no part in placing this ad. Students are generally taken aback by the ad. Alumnus Bill Arnold wrote on the college's informal listserv, "Listen,"

I think that this is a serious misrepresentation of what goes on at Shimer, if only because at Shimer we value careful speech[....] For example: one could re-formulate the statement "Man is a rational animal" as "People are rational animals" on the grounds that it is politically correct and one values political correctness; however, even if one does not value political correctness, we at Shimer would, I think, argue that it still behooves one to reformulate that statement in that way if what one means by "man" is actually something like "people as a species." I mean, language already has, in my opinion, much more in common with the ax than the scalpel - I think we need to take our precision where we can get it.

Shawnna Johnson wrote,
The thing that strikes me as particularly ridiculous about these ads is that I can't imagine who they are advertising to. I don't imagine that it's trying to attract black students from the Heartland Institute with the phrase "Tired of Political Correctness?". I then have to assume that it's directed at a white conservative audience who is in fact tired of what they call "political correctness", and that these girls were put on this flier to be made fun of. The only message that strikes me as possibly being there is: Shimer college, we don't care about racism and we're proud of it!
It is commonly presumed that Joe Bast, newly-recruited trustee and President of the Heartland Institute, is responsible for the ad. The Heartland Institute, as many of us already know, is a strong supporter of "Common Sense Environmentalism," which to them means denying the existence of climate change and decrying the Kyoto Protocol. According to Sourcewatch, the Heartland Institute was funded by Exxon in support of their conferences on (the alleged lack of) climate change. But even before that, the Heartland Institute was claiming that cigarettes don't cause cancer -- and receiving large amounts of funding from tobacco companies. Nowadays, they've curtailed their claim to simply that "second hand smoke doesn't cause cancer." Honest people.

PRESIDENT LINDSAY INVITES STUDENTS TO CONFERENCE, STUDENTS ORGANIZING BOYCOTT -- President Lindsay has solicited applications for Shimer students to participate in a conference at the Alexander Hamilton Institute to discuss the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The perk Lindsay makes clear is that all expenses of the trip will be paid by the AHI. What kind of place is the AHI? Heath Iverson writes in the upcoming edition of Promulgates,

Originally proposed in 2006 as a program within Hamilton College, the “Alexander Hamilton Center,” was to promote “excellence in scholarship through the study of freedom, democracy, and capitalism as these ideas were developed and institutionalized in the United States and within the larger tradition of Western culture.” However, fearing that the Center would be infiltrated by the “liberal” faculty of the University, its founders argued that the Center should enjoy exemption from the academic oversight to which all other campus organizations are subject. According to the online journal, Inside Higher Ed, one of the Center's founders, “Robert Paquette, argued that “it was appropriate for the Hamilton Center to have more independence than other campus programs. ‘We needed to provide insulation to prevent faculty cooptation,’ he said. Paquette acknowledged that the way the charter for the Center was created, it would have been possible after the first round of appointments to the Center's board for that body to have only one Hamilton faculty member among its nine members.” In the end, Hamilton College's administration rejected any affiliation with the Center, owing to its reluctance to submit to the University’s governance structures. The failure to establish the Center within Hamilton College has been seen as “a cautionary tale for conservatives as they struggle to establish small beachheads on hostile campuses.” Nevertheless, within months the Hamilton institute, as the proposed center has come to be called, emerged from the "culture wars of the college"" and was able to constitute itself as an independent entity outside of Hamilton College, garnering enthusiasm from conservative publications such as The National Review.
In light of students’ increasing impatience with Tom Lindsay’s lack of forthrightness, and in response to his apparent attempt to radically change Shimer’s public image and Mission Statement, members of the Shimer Student Alliance are organizing a boycott of this conference. This boycott will express students’ strong and common disapproval of Lindsay’s duplicity towards the student body and his support of a mounting political clique within the board of trustees.

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