The Oct 18 campus invasion by “several dozen” of an outside evangelical anti-abortion group is one of the most ill-advised events ever staged to a captive audience.
Students may ask, if UMW had a President installed, would this have occurred? No President would tolerate academic disruption in the name of free speech.
Why, then, was UMW Police Chief James Snipes, quoted in the local paper as stating “We were inundated with calls from concerned students and parents” and then did nothing?
Behavior statutorily defined as “Breach of the Peace, To Wit: Disorderly Conduct,” with possible threats of intimidation and fear of bodily harm (actual or implied) requires hands-on action. Failure to do so usually results in meaningful consequence.
One may ask just what does it take to roust Cheif Snipes? Not complaint calls from those who pay his salary. Perhaps a student who sips an alcoholic beverage, spits it out, and has “the smell” on his/her breath? A co-ed who is late for class and has on only bare essentials? Pitting one against another for mass hysteria?
I was further appalled and disgusted when Chief Snipes responded to one co-ed who felt “unsafe” by telling her to “walk away.”
And then there’s Student Affairs Vice-President, Bernard Chirico’s remark, “The right to free expression is one of our country’s most important concepts.” So we can next expect the Ku Klux Klan, the Georgetown Anarchists, and al-Qaeda on campus?
Don’t count on it.
So what’s happening? Why was this a message that Mary Wash women had to hear and see?
As a former Instructor of Psychology at a Richmond hospital, I am reminded of what Freud called the “Madonna-Whore” complex.
From religion abuse, males with low self-esteem develop a comfort zone by creating a good-bad female dichotomy. Women are divided only into two groups—the pure and chaste, and the renegade slut.
Enter punishment, guilt, shame and the wild-eyed evangelical hysterics, Life and Liberty Ministries. The “liberty” deception is inherent in their need to control all mankind. And what kind of “life” can you have when these “Hitlers” preach to a choir of administrators that encouraged their presence?
We continue to recognize that a woman’s right to an abortion is the law of the land (Roe v. Wade) and the Supreme Court’s stating that it derives protection from the 9th and 14th Amendments. I would also add the 4th Amendment, the right to be left alone—the closest we have to a right of privacy—now eviscerated under the guise of national security.
But UMW students are not dumb. From junior Melissa Falkenstein’s comment, “You can’t get to your classes, you can’t get to your dorm, you can’t get anywhere without having to walk through this” to freshman Harrison Weinhold’s invective to the demonstrators, “You were taught wrong your entire life,” the need is present for solid, hard-core leadership.
Having also worked as an accreditation consultant for multiple campuses within the Office of University Registrar at a major Virginia university, and later in the Federal sector working with university presidents, I would like to offer some advice to students searching for a new President:
Please provide whatever input you can to hire a new President with a Business background. A retired CEO or current CEO seeking a change in direction would offer the best mix of successful group dynamics, budget expertise, and staff accountability.
Forget $100,000 “search” firms who deliver a linguistics professor. UMW’s multi-campus largesse needs a leadership that must go beyond academic credentials and can provide competency-based results.
And you may still see First Amendment guarantees of Free Speech either as radicals or reactionaries lecturing on campus in which students have a choice of attending—a choice that respects the rights of others. You will not see an outside group representing an extreme religious ideology that is hell-bent on causing trouble.
Ronald Amon is a resident of the city of Fredericksburg and has worked in higher education.