As you no doubt remember, I have written previously about the worrisome inroads that the woke disease had been making at Grove City College. There was something of an uproar about it at the time, and so if you missed that, you can look at my previous contributions here and here and just follow the links.
There have been recent developments, as I am here to inform you. Not quite breathlessly, because it all came down last week, but I thought that as I had written about it before, and had made some noise, I owed it to everyone to follow up with some credit where credit is due.
The Good News
First the good news, and after that some pointed observations on the tasks remaining.
The good news is that the board of Grove City did exactly what they needed to do. The allegations by parents and others were not paranoid, and the allegations did rise to a board-level concern. If they were well-grounded concerns, as it turns out they were, the allegations were about mission critical issues.
So the board did well. They appointed a committee of six of their own members, well-qualified to investigate the allegations. They did a thorough job, and looked at everything that the cat was alleged to have drug in. They didn’t put it this way, of course, but they looked at all the related issues until their eyes bulged. Their report can be found here, and I have to say that the report is deeply heartening. It is a real encouragement. They dealt with the facts straight on, did not whitewash anything, and proposed a number of reasonable and much needed solutions.
The bottom line, if you put all the pieces together, is that the parents and concerned alums were not imagining things. They were right to be concerned, and my take is that the fact that they made their concerns known in such a high profile way meant that the board was enabled to do the work of a board. And this was a work which protected the college from this commie mind-rot that is permeating higher education pretty much everywhere.
But What About . . .
When you are dealing with an established institution like Grove City, all such worldview issues are at the same time personnel issues, and these two layers have to be dealt with differently.
In a worldview discussion, whenever a point is established that same point should be granted. This is in effect what the board’s committee did. They examined the claims, and made a determination. “We investigated the matter and we see your point.” The committee also, in unmistakable terms, repudiated CRT and all of its ugly intersectional cousins. “That is not what we are about. That is not where we are going. That may be what other folks are doing, but it is not what we are doing.”
They settled the worldview issues in as honest and open a way as possible.
But personnel issues have to be handled differently. Suppose you say that your school stands for XYZ, and let us also say that one of your professors, for whom the word recalcitrant would be something of an understatement, says something along the lines of nuh uh and ZYX. “I don’t teach that stuff, and you can’t prove that I do, but it wouldn’t be a problem if I did teach that stuff, and anybody who would have a problem with me if I were to start teaching that stuff, which I am not doing yet, is a hater and probably has a Gadsden flag on his pick-up.” That kind of guy.
He has to be dealt with administratively. There are policies to follow, and meetings to be held, and understandings to be reached, and lawyers to be consulted, and waters to flow under the bridge. If there were anybody like that at Grove City, hypothetically speaking, and let us say that it rhymed with Mockthorton, the board should say something completely different than what they did in the worldview discussion. If there were to be such a guy—see the next section—the board should say something that is really straightforward and simple.
”We have made the vision and commitments of the college clear. If this statement has revealed any personnel issues that we continue to have at the college, such that some faculty or staff may be seen as being out of alignment with our stated vision, we trust our president to deal with such personnel issues in a manner that is in line with our policies and procedures.”
And so outside observers should be patient, and more than willing to wait for a year or so, watching to see what happens. The president now knows how the board wants the college to be aligned, and it is his job to make that happen.
The Disingenuous Throckmorton
So now we should look at the part that is not happening behind closed doors.
Right after the report dropped, a small student group at Grove City (College Democrats) held an event in which they were regaled everybody with the ways in which they could be LGBTQ+ allies. The faculty advisor for this group is a psychology professor named Warren Throckmorton, and he is clearly not singing off the same sheet of music. The board is singing Nessun Dorma, while Throckmorton is trying to sing In a Gadda da Vida while at the same moment tapping his foot loudly and out of time. The decision to hold this event was clearly in the spirit of ”we-double-dog-dare-ya” to do something about us. If the college were to take the bait and do something stupid and abrupt, the headlines would be all about academic freedom, the spirit of free inquiry, the toxic environment of Grove City, and how a graduating senior, a psychology major, didn’t feel ”safe” in the student commons.
The college historically has not taken a heavy hand when it comes to student-run organizations (which is apparently a policy they should want to reconsider), but personnel issues need to be handled deliberately, quietly, in line with procedure, and out of the public eye. This College Democrats group is small, and is dedicated to their mission of noisily demonstrating which students at GCC are not paying attention in their classes.
And the LGBTQ+“club” there on campus (there is one) is not a recognized/legitimate club—but it also reveals to the outside world the fact that there are certainly some students there who are not actually receiving the kind of education that is being touted on the brochures. The Grove City board has acknowledged that this is a problem, and now that the president has received his marching orders that will equip him to address it, he needs to do so.
But I do want to mention one way that Warren Throckmorton is morally obligated to help out. Some of you may know his name from the fact that he wrote a book called Getting Jefferson Right, in which he took issue with David Barton’s argument that Jefferson was much friendlier to Christianity than is commonly supposed. Remember that? A big part of Throckmorton’s dudgeon at the time was over what he considered to be a revisionist and intellectually dishonest way of treating American history.
So, since he cares a great deal about intellectual integrity and honesty, it comes time for us to pose this question to him. How can you work for McDonalds when you are trying to sell Wendy’s burgers? How is it intellectually honest to have read your board’s report on what Grove City stands for, and continue to draw a paycheck for your ongoing labors in trying to undermine or sabotage that mission? That is profoundly disingenuous, and I don’t think it is the kind of thing that a David Barton would do.
So there are three options here. If Throckmorton maintains his convictions and resigns his faculty position, that would be an intellectually honest parting of the ways. If he repudiates the actions of the College Democrats, resigns his position as faculty advisor, signs off on the committee’s report, and declares his open support for them, that too could be intellectually honest. Surprising, and weird, but it could be honest. But if he sits tight right where he is, hunkers down, and makes the president of Grove City pry him loose, then he really does need to go.
But he wouldn’t need to go because he has “different convictions.” He would have to go because he has a different understanding of integrity.