THE PRESIDENT OF GUSTAVUS RESPONDS

More Greek Ruins/Photo by Greg Robbins

So why am publishing a third post on this issue? For me, this story represents the worst of what is happening in our nation.  We can blame the secular world all we want for the problems we face.  In truth, the churches are failing and have failed.  It is not only happening at this “Christian” college in Minnesota.  It is happening everywhere.  I’ve heard stories about public colleges, but can they be as bad as this “Christian” college?

The following is the only statement issued by the president of Gustavus Adolphus College so far.  Frankly, I can’t articulate my thoughts well. Disappointment doesn’t even come close.

You can read the statement for yourself.  It seems that two bad things happened.  Someone took videos that misrepresented the freshman orientation process. And equally “troubling,”  someone painted a slur of some kind on a rock in the middle of the night.  According to the president, the incidents “threaten our core values.” The videos “portray the College’s mission and values in a negative way.”

That is my understanding of the statement made by the president of the “Christian” college.

WHAT?????

How could this be possible?  Did the president not see the content of the videos?  Where is the criticism of the “orientation?”  Just what are the core values of this college? Faith is mentioned.  Faith in what?  How is it possible that the president of a “Christian” college can equate some spray painting on a rock, in the middle of the night, to the videos I have seen?

No wonder we’ve got problems.

Chris Reimers

Greek Ruins by Toby Simkin

The statement:

October 13, 2010

To: Gustavus Students, Faculty, and Staff

From: President Ohle

My message today is one I wish was not necessary for me to write. At Gustavus, we pride ourselves in being a community open to all and rooted in the core values of excellence, community, justice, service, and faith. For most in the community, civility is a virtue. Unfortunately, I must write today to share with you incidents that have taken place over the last few weeks that are in conflict with and threaten our core values.

First, however, I feel it is important for you to know my views and the institution’s position regarding these incidents. Be assured, the incidents mentioned below are being addressed by me and discussed with many of those involved. Members of the President’s Cabinet, Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, and our extended community of alumni and friends have all weighed in with their concerns.

I realize that many of you may not be aware of these incidents. The first incident portrays the College’s mission and values in a negative way due to the fact that two videos of this year’s new student orientation have been circulating on the Internet. The two videos are edited excerpts from the presentations during orientation designed to encourage discussion about many issues all college students may face regarding differences in lifestyles and social issues. The clips only show the harsh and difficult issues students may face but do not indicate in any way the depth of discussion that takes place following the presentations. The second incident is more recent and involves some in the community who have openly disrespected others by painting over the rock that had been painted this week to express support for those celebrating “Coming Out Week.” Both incidents are troubling and unacceptable in our community.

I hope we will find better ways to share divergent perspectives and that all of us will take time to pause and think about the importance of our community and how everyone adds value to the Gustavus family. In that light, I have asked Provost Fienen and Vice President Stocco to work with faculty, students, and staff to find a time to have an open forum on these two incidents. I anticipate we will have a campus-wide forum to talk about civility and respect for others before the fall break.

Regarding the painting of the rock incident, I want to commend the Student Senate for its prompt response. Be assured, both incidents are being addressed by those of us who have responsibility for the Gustavus community.

Jack R. Ohle

President

Gustavus Adolphus College

800 West College Avenue

Saint Peter, MN 56082 507-933-7538

president@gustavus.edu <mailto:president@gustavus.edu>

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