The question then, if my reading is correct, is should the administration change its approach from argumentation to shared inquiry? Should the administration have started with a discussion approach instead of an argument? Since it's too late for the administration to change how it began, which was how we were expected to begin an essay at Shimer College, with a position, should the administration shift from the essay to the discussion group, by joining this discussion for example? If you follow the metaphor of the essay to its logical conclusion, then can't we treat everything that led up to announcing the proposal to move to IIT as rough drafts, prep work, and research that you would not turn in to the professor for a grade or submit to the academic community for consideration of being published? If the administration sustains its approach of arguing its main point of moving to IIT being the best solution to the Problem of Shimer College, if Shimer College is indeed an emergency, should we assume the role of the skeptical, reasonable educated citizen who is poking holes in the argument in order to make certain this argument is indeed good for the college and the students? If we are to treat this as an argument for moving to IIT by the board and the administration, should we prepare an "un-official" list of counter-arguments against moving to IIT and a list of arguments for staying in Waukegan, since there is no evidence that we have to accept that staying in Waukegan isn't an option, in addition to bombarding the administration with questions and doubts, which is absolutely appropriate if this is in fact an argument? Why is this argument so strangely problematic, puzzling, and irritating?
Letter to President Bill Rice:
A Critique of the Move to IIT on Aesthetic Grounds
I am having trouble reconciling the campaign to "Beautify Shimer" with the facilities that IIT has offered to Shimer College and that were presented to us at the recent alum meeting. I strongly believe that the cozy aesthetics of the Shimer College campus in Waukegan are a far more beautiful learning environment than the ugly factory, warehouse, institutional, corporate setting and space that we are being offered to lease for the next 30 years.
Since I sincerely believe that you have a highly developed aesthetic sensibility, which is demonstrated in your diction and in your lecture on Oscar Wilde, and since we are now being sold what I believe to be a very ugly building on the unattractive IIT campus, I can't help thinking that this proposal must be a hoax.
Although some people may believe that the poetics of place and aesthetic values are superficial compared to the more serious considerations regarding this move, I have to personally oppose this move to IIT on aesthetic grounds. The poetics of space and the beauty of the place are fundamental values in a liberal arts experience. I can't tolerate considering this proposed facility as a future home for Shimer College. This proposal insults the sense of aesthetics that I developed at Shimer College through study and appreciation of beautiful works of arts and the great books. Schiller and Kant, I suspect, would agree with my position.
In the name of Oscar Wilde, consider looking for a more aesthetically pleasing space for Shimer College. If a school of adult education, such as The Feltre School, can create such a beautiful home for itself, even though it is mainly selling grammar courses, I don't understand why Shimer College should relocate to a space that one can't simply say that it is a beautiful place to read and discuss the great books.
Tell IIT that we refuse this lease because Shimer College deserves a beautiful home.
What does it mean that "[Waukegan] wants Shimer College to stay"?
1) Will the upcoming discussion with the mayor of Waukegan be a serious attempt to discuss with the City of Waukegan the possibility of how the City of Waukegan can potentially financially support the college--if the board and administration have already decided that the move to IIT is the best solution to the problem of increasing its revenue? (In a discussion, you arrive at a decision at the end of the discussion by shared consensus; in an argument, you begin with a decision.)
2) How can we find out what the City of Waukegan is willing to offer to Shimer College, if there is no informed transparency by the board and administration?
3) When is the President of Shimer College meeting with the City of Waukegan?
4) Will Shimer College and the City of Waukegan benefit from (and laugh at) the hoax?
Michael Dubensky '03