Monday, November 21, 2005

From the student and faculty members of the board

The Shimer community is faced with one of the most important choices to come before the College in a generation. Tensions are bound to run high. Still, this moment must serve as a testament to our dedication to the ideals of Shimer. This decision-making process is just as much a part of the dialogical learning experience as anything that happens around the octagon.

And around the octagon, we do not tolerate personal attacks that distract us from the task at hand, even if some of those attacks may be warranted. Our tradition of dialogue demands that we take people at face value while critically examining their ideas and conclusions.

Not everyone involved in this discussion is good at expressing their views clearly. It is our responsibility to help them clarify their views with questions, comments, suggestions and critiques. This is at the heart of what it means to be a Shimerian.

We all have differing and evolving opinions about this choice. Those of us who have signed this letter are no different. But those of us who have signed this letter – the student and faculty members of the Board of Trustees – are unanimous in our belief that all who are contributing to the dialog, including those with whose opinions we may strongly disagree, are acting in good faith, however much their visions for Shimer may differ.

Although we may not notice them much, everyone on the Board of Trustees volunteers because they believe in Shimer and what it stands for. The vast majority are alumni. They have given vast amounts of time and money to the preservation and improvement of this College. Everyone in the Shimer community, including board members, is trying to determine what is in the best interests of the College.

Shimer College is best served by deliberations that address the merits of the proposal, not the motives, character or conduct of other community members. Let us together act in this way to ensure that we engage in true dialog and reach the best decision for Shimer's future.

Shimer College and its traditions of educational dialog deserve nothing less.

Feel free to contact any of us with questions, comments or concerns.

Owen Brugh
Weekend Student Trustee

Albert B. Fernandez
Faculty Trustee

Matilda Kriemelmeyer
Weekday Student Trustee

Jim Donovan
Faculty Trustee

Noah Kippley-Ogman
Weekday Student Trustee


Saradevil said...

I find this posting a bit odd. The nature of this blog is to provide a forum to allow for dialogue. It is a place for various facts, differing opinions, and deep feelings. While it was always the end goal of the classroom to provide a space for dialogue it was not a goal to eliminate all subjectivity. Texts, regardless of what they are and how presented, are subject to varying interpretations which will stir many feelings.

Regarding this forum, yes, many of those hear have reacted to news of the potential move with deep feelings. Some feel betrayed, other elated, a few confused, and occasionally angry.

The board, at this point need not defend itself. To post a letter that is merely a defense of itself makes no sense. It would be more appropriate for the board or those members who are represented here, to follow the lead of some others. Rather then questioning the emotional response of those who think with full hearts towards Shimer, it would be better to put our minds at ease.

Don’t defend your participation in the decision making process. That is a fact, nothing to deny, only responsibility that can be accepted. Tell us, the assembled, the disaffected, the Shimer lovers and haters and forgotten, why you approve or oppose this move. It is a more appropriate use of this forum, and will help perhaps to salve and soothe all emotions, while pushing this dialogue further from speculation of motives and towards truth and a partially objective place from which to reason.

While in the end none of us can shut of our hearts and how they will be affected by this move, all of us here are willing to listen to those insights that can be provided. So please, don’t speak to use about how you love the college, don’t defend your pride, or expose those passions which you ask us to temper. Instead provide your interpretation to this dialogue. Why do you feel this move is good or ill or otherwise? It is certainly information that all of us here will be glad to receive.


Sara Davila

Owen Brugh said...


We wrote this letter not because of postings specific to this blog but because of some of the other comments out in the community.

Many of us on the board have kept quiet because we do not want to give the impression that we have made up our minds. This is because, for the most part, we have not made up our minds. I know I'm extremely on the fence. I see the logical arguments on both sides.

The purpose of the letter is not to defend the board or us as members of the board. It is an attempt to refocus the debate back onto the move itself, not some of the blunders that have characterized how the community has been informed of the move.

If anyone has questions, please e-mail me. I’ll do my best to answer them as I can, although I think David has been doing very well.

Alan said...

I like this letter. It would frustrate me greatly to volunteer for a position to help a college and be called things like "Nefarious", "Devious", "Plotting" "Scheming", "secretive" etc.
Personally I don't feel betrayed for not knowing everything that happens in the Shimer community over the years. I'm grateful to those who are. I don't have any expectation that the board inform me or seek my approval for every move they make just because I happened to attend for four years. This is why we delegate authority.
I'm very grateful that they do listen to and consider our concerns. I'm amazed how diplomatic they are towards statements I've seen that seem to me to be non constructive ad hominim attacks.