Yesterday, I decided to call up IIT in order to ask a few questions and find out if IIT has any more beautiful facilities available for Shimer College.
I spoke to a couple of people in the Property Management Office, including a nice woman who handles leases for IIT by the name of Brenda Stewart, who can be reached at (312) 567-3923. She told me that a decision had not been made as of a meeting last week, but that she would speak to John Collins, Vice President for Business and Administration, who is handling this project directly.
I also spoke to Vicki who transferred me to John Collin's office, and I spoke to a nice person on the phone by the name of Meg Mattson, Assistant to the Vice-President, who can be reached for confirmation of any of my statements or her citations at (312) 567-3060.
1. Meg Mattson from IIT told me that a decision has not been made yet to relocate Shimer College. By "decision," I assume she means that the lease has not been signed yet.
2. Meg Mattson from IIT told me that there isn't a deadline, a specific date by which the decision has to be made, but since the facility needs some work, it would be to the best interest of Shimer College to sign the lease as soon as possible in order to prepare the space for the following school year.
If Meg Mattson from IIT told me that there isn't an official deadline, why would Young Kim, Chair of the Shimer Board of Trustees, report in the official Shimer College announcement on November 18 (I think) of the proposal to move to IIT on the Shimer College Web site and published in the Waukegan News-Sun: "The IIT invitation is conditional until January"?
Sarah Kimmel reported in the first blog entry on November 9: "However, the space is currently empty, and they would like to lease it to us, but they have to make a decision to lease it to somebody very soon. So, Shimer has 2 months to decide. If we let this space go, it may be some while before another contiguous space becomes available. Dave [Shiner] says that if this is still a live issue in 2 months, there will be an assembly, probably on December 18th."
In Kim's letter posted to the Future of Shimer College Blog on November 18, Kim wrote: "There has been some pique expressed over the seeming abruptness in which the IIT discussions have been brought to the attention of the Shimer community, as well as the relatively short time line for decision-making about a possible move. The time line is what it is, and not completely within our control. To the extent that we decide not to make a decision within the time frame, and we may do so if we choose, that may very well serve as a decision."
Owen Brugh stated in his November 30 blog posting: "We did not pick anything in this situation, not the actual space and not the time frame."
Sara Davila in her December 6 posting wrote: "First, while I do not always believe everything I read in the paper, I feel that the following article is certainly evidence that the move is under consideration and could be taken as evidence that the move is a valid and true fact that is being considered: "IIT invited Shimer to its campus at 3300 S. Federal St., and college officials say they will decide by January whether to accept the offer" (Bell, 2005, para. 1). "
David Shiner wrote in Choosing our Future: "In recognition of Shimer's interest, IIT has not actively pursued other potential renters for that space since the departure of Easter Seals in the late summer of 2005. However, they are not willing to continue waiting indefinitely. If Shimer and IIT can agree on lease terms by January, they will hold the space for us without rent for an additional several months. If not, they will seek another renter. If they find one, it might well be a while before another contiguous space becomes available on their campus, and any spaces that do become available might be beyond Shimer's means. " (December 8)
If I accurately understood Meg Mattson from IIT, whom I strongly encourage you to call in order to verify these statements, that there isn't an official deadline for signing the lease agreement, if there even is a lease agreement with agreed upon terms, I can't help thinking that my thesis may be correct, which by the very nature of a thesis statement you have the freedom to disagree with and doubt: Shimer College has most likely planned out this decision a long time ago, but it needs to persuade us to agree with its decision possibly for the sake of donations from alums, even if it does not make the final decision of signing the lease agreement. If you decide to call IIT or Shimer College, challenge David Shiner's recent December 8 claims, his warrants, his conditional statements, his if-then statements: "Is it true if this then that?" "Can you support your written statements with textual support?" "Can Shimer College start a fund-raising campaign to alums and family of students and alums, before the lease has even been signed?"
Even if the motive of making money is tolerable, even if there are multiple benefits in relocating to IIT, even if the facilities were more beautiful than the current campus, even if the majority of the current students and alums were to agree with the decision to move Shimer College to IIT, even if there weren't a huge risk to the quality of the dynamics of the pursuit of an excellent great books discussion group--the method, the argumentation, the dynamics, and the process of this argument in favor of moving to IIT lack virtue.
Should I have had to ask Kim, 'what is the condition of your statement that the IIT invitation is conditional until January'? Should I have had to ask Kim, 'what are the underlying if-then statements [see Shiner's excerpt above] that your statement is built off of'? Is this some kind of rigged game in which I will lose the game if I make a false assumption? In my opinion, this is still yet another example of a bad argument that you can get away with, but an argument non-the-less that lacks virtue if you are conducting yourself in good faith.
3. I then asked Meg Mattson from IIT if there are any more beautiful buildings for Shimer College to rent. She told me that besides the cost of a more attractive facility, "there is nothing else available for next year."
Meg Mattson from IIT asked if I had ever seen the inside of the facility, implying that the inside of the place is in terrible condition; but I have only seen the outside of that ugly building, a building so ugly that even Owen Brugh admitted at the end of his November 30 blog posting that it is one of the ugliest buildings on the campus: "although I think you're right that the building they are offering might be the ugliest there." If the facilities at IIT are not even in good condition, how are they a solution to the current physical plant? Why don't you use the money that would be used to move, redesign, and remodel the IIT facility and invest it into the current Shimer College facility, especially since everyone is claiming that there is no guarantee of increasing enrollment by moving to IIT?
The current condition of the proposed facility and the absence of any other facilities for next year would suggest that the "possiblity of a low-cost pilot program at IIT" that David Shiner mentioned in his November 27 blog entry and Noah Kippley-Ogman's recent December 4 posting about "talk of doing a pilot program first" could not make sense if you consider the time and cost of moving and remodeling. This alternative plan proposal, especially if it requires inevitable financial investment of a facility in terrible condition, may be used to transition Shimer College from Waukegan to Chicago.
By making these phone calls, I have shattered two of my major hopes: 1) Waukegan will save Shimer College; 2) IIT will offer Shimer College a more beautiful home.
I guess your final decision comes down to the cozy or the ugly. And the process of making this decision and the execution of this argument will be less than beautiful. It's reality, which may be one of the ugliest hoaxes of all.