Recently, I became aware of rancor at the Mount over a magazine article attributed to Dr. Joshua Hochschild pertaining to his opinion on recent political events. It prompted President Timothy Trainor to address in his weekly updates that there was an “absence of empathy and respect for people of color” in the article. I have read this article and did not find anything racist in it and more in line with the professor’s opinion of what has transpired politically over the last five years. Yet, I understand that a student has used social media to try to fire this professor. To me, this is just wrong and another attempt at striking down someone with a different opinion.
Why is it that when someone gets offended by words, the first thing they want to do is have that person fired or cancelled? Our Constitution grants us the right to free speech and this must be protected even if what is said might be offensive. The Mountain Echo recently printed an article from Professor Ed Egan dissecting the other professor’s magazine article. He did have a right to do this but, based upon the heated debate over this issue, prudence from a member of the Mount faculty would have tamped down this issue. Should Egan be fired because of his inflaming rhetoric? The answer is no, even though it may have been offensive to others. I believe that Egan has previously been fired for an incident involving a previous Mount administration, and was rehired over the objection of many Alumni.
One of the weekly updates seemed to insinuate that white people have implicit bias. In my opinion, we all have implicit bias, not based on skin color, but more on the character of the individual. When I graduated from the Mount in 1968, the total school population was less than 1,000 and most everyone was white and Catholic. We may have looked similar in color but we came from different ethnic backgrounds of rich and poor, rural and suburban throughout many states and a few foreign countries. We had many differences of opinions and we had heated arguments, but never to the extent of what I witness today. We did not try to cancel anyone because of what they said.
Over my four years at the Mount, more people of color matriculated to our school and all were welcomed within our community. I never witnessed any bias towards them. We were an inclusive school and we were “one Mount.” Why is it that the media are trying to divide us by race when most everyone respects each other?
It was a different time in the 60s without iPads, cell phones and the internet. There was no social media, so all our communication was person to person, writing letters or making calls from the dorm pay phone. There was a level of respect towards everyone and this was instilled in us by our college professors. They were true educators and not like some current professors who are more interested in indoctrinating their students to their way of thinking than teaching them to form their own opinions.
I am not naïve to say that there was no racism in the country at the time but I did not see any of this on campus. In addition, no one I knew at the Mount exhibited any feeling of white privilege, either, a term that is the current “buzz phrase” in the media and academia. For the most part, we came from humble beginnings and many of us had to work in order to go to school. Scholarships were not as prevalent as now, nor were summer internships. My summer job was a trash collector (“garbage man”) which paid the most money out of the other job opportunities offered to me. As I said, there was an absence of internships and I needed to make the most money during the summer.
Most of my classmates have fond memories of the Mount and our class had one of the highest participation percentages at our five-year reunions, as well as the largest amount of donations to the Mount. Our class has established two scholarships and has been the majority contributor to a third. We also sponsored one of the cottages on Alumni Row. We believe in the Mount but many in my class cannot condone some students insinuating that there is/was white privilege and demanding professors being fired for exercising their rights to free speech.
You don’t have to like what I have said and you have the right to disagree with me. I am retired so you can’t fire me. I am not on any social media platform so you can’t cancel me. So, if you are offended by what I wrote, just ignore me. My feelings won’t be hurt.