Many of you are aware of a controversy last year that revolved around whether or not Grove City College was going woke or not. After the controversy broke, I commented on it a few times—here and here. If you need a refresher, there you go.
As some time has gone by, I thought I should give you an update, and as these things go, I think we should call it good news. Actually, I think we should call it good news and a challenge.
Two Distinct Problems
Once the controversy became an official controversy, the board of Grove City appointed a committee to look into it, and the committee issued a marvelous report. That report acknowledged the problems, the nature of the problems, and correctly identified where the problems were. It seemed initially that all the concerns of the petitioners were going to be met.
But the taste of controversy still lingered in the mouths of many outsiders because this marvelous report was not followed by, as one observer put it, “executions in the Quad.” In other words, nobody was sacked. What were the options that might explain this? One was that the board did not have real control of the admin, who were going to obstruct and slow walk everything, such that the wokery would continue on, maybe at a slower pace. That was one possibility. The other possibility was that the board’s findings were going to be implemented, but the admin’s style did not run in the line of executions in the Quad. If this was the case, that created a distinct and separate problem for the college, outlined below.
Now it appears that this second option was in fact what happened. So this is the place where it would be fitting to divide Grove City’s challenges into two. It appears from the committee report that they did in fact have an infestation of woke, and that it was a substantive problem. But a separate problem, not unrelated, was the resultant PR problem. Grove City had a reputation of being a stalwart conservative institution, and because the problems were not addressed in a high profile way, even assuming they were addressed in substance, Grove City still has to deal with their PR black eye.
So one problem is whether the woke termites are still chewing on the floor joists. The other problem is, even if they are not doing so, the conservative world out there (including a lot of parents who once would have sent their kids) still thinks that they might still be chewing.
Good News First
Now it appears to me that, on the ground, the results the board wanted have been achieved.
One problem was that education course (EDUC 290). The faculty member who designed and taught it is no longer on the faculty. The couple who were involved with the objectionable co-curricular activity and the problematic residence hall stuff are now gone. The faculty member behind the troublesome Jemar Tisby invitation is no longer on faculty. And while Warren Throckmorton was not a player in this particular mess, he was kind of adjacent, and he has now retired.
When I first wrote about all of this, I said something to the effect that personnel actions aren’t always public and can sometimes take a while. All that is true enough. So it appears to me that GCC has opted for the quieter way of doing this, and they accomplished what they wanted without raising a big stink.
Actually, they accomplished part of what they wanted.
But They Already Had a Stink
Assuming a judgment of charity here, which I think is appropriate, let us say that GCC has dealt with the infestation. The actual problem on campus is now resolved. Okay. They still have a remaining challenge, and it is a big one. This is the PR challenge, which translates to a recruitment challenge.
I believe that America needs a lot more sane college options than we currently have, but if we get that, it will mean a lot more competition for us here at New Saint Andrews. But this, while challenging, is entirely a good thing. It keeps everybody on their toes. It helps to keep everyone mission-focused.
Now before all this, Grove City was one of our competitors for students, and this woke debacle kind of sidelined them for a bit. My earnest hope is that they will do what needs to be done, and will come roaring back to give us a run for our money. The advice that follows—no guile, no kidding—is designed to that end.
Because the controversy was high profile, and because the method of moving folks along was not high profile, GCC is not going to be able to regain their footing as a front line conservative option for parents unless they do something that is high profile, or a cluster of somethings. Here are some of my suggestions. And perhaps some of these things, or things like them, are already in motion, I don’t know.
They should make a point of selecting high profile conservative voices for visiting lectures. Just as the presence of Jemar Tisby sent an unwanted message, so also would an invitation to Voddie Baucham, for example, send a desired message. Meg Basham would be great also, or any other conservative whose last name begins with B and ends with M. GCC should also establish three highly visible full-ride four-year scholarships for students to compete for, and the competition would be conducted through essay-writing in three distinct areas—economics, sexual ethics, and climate change criticism, say. Conservative students will follow sharp conservative student leaders, and these scholarships would be a way of identifying such student leaders. The diversity office should be simply eliminated, not re-staffed. The board should endow a chair dedicated to conservative moral philosophy, and make sure a fire-eater is hired to sit in it. There would be major bonus points if he has been a vocal critic of masking, lock downs, and mandatory vaccines. And last, the board should take an acute interest in all future admin hires, and when the current president retires, they should conduct a job search that seeks to identify and hire a conservative fighter slightly to the left of King Arthur.
One last thing. They should always remember that the woke are sneaky and shameless. They specialize in wrecking things, and it does not bother them that they wreck things. They think of that as a feature, not a bug. So when GCC is right in the middle of the recovery campaign of their conservative bona fides, they should be braced for some adjunct faculty guy to give some stinker of a woke interview to The Atlantic. And then, perhaps, it would be time for an execution in the Quad.