For the first time I am beginning to see a PERSON!

I received a rather timely response from Provost Weixlmann today and I am happy to report that he responded to my questions much more thoroughly than I anticipated and with a more human face than I have seen in his communication with other alumni members on this matter. That being said, humans lie. And I wonder where, on the delicate balance of truth, his response lies.

Please see Weixlmann’s response in bold. I hope to provide my commentary on his response in a post later today.

Your passionate email probably deserves a longer response than I can afford it, given my other responsibilities, but I have made what I hope are some useful observations below –>
Provost Weixlmann,

The response that would satisfy me would be one of both compassion and reason from the Saint Louis University administration.

Certainly you do not suppose that any decision made on my part, your own or any other, for that matter, is based solely on logic. There are many logical lunatics who operate without compassion. My argument is not entirely rooted in logic. My conclusion that Dr. Meyer is beloved is based upon the many outspoken voices of fellow alumni and former faculty. We do not spend our time and energy to reach out to influential members of the SLU community, such as yourself, seeking understanding regarding your actions, as a mere pastime. We do so because we are concerned about the implications of such actions when they contradict the Mission of the university. Beloved people, and institutions, can certainly do wrong.  

<I UNDERSTAND.  AGREED.>

Given that Saint Louis University is a Jesuit, Catholic university, you will understand that decisions, especially at such an institution, should be made with consideration to ethical and religious ideals. As a student at Canisius and now provost of the university, I am sure you are familiar with both Jesuit ideals and SLU’s Mission statement. I find SLU’s Mission a wise and inspiring document that I hope that the administration is able to live up to, especially in light of the legal battle with Dr. Meyer.
“The Mission of Saint Louis University is the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity. The University seeks excellence in the fulfillment of its corporate purposes of teaching, research and community service.”
It is with the pursuit of truth and commitment to excellence in the university’s purpose of teaching that I write to you now. Has Dr. Meyer not proven himself an excellent educator? I believe that numerous awards bestowed upon him speak volumes for his good work, as have the many testimonials you have received from his former students such as myself.
<I AGREE THAT DR. MEYER’S TEACHING HAS CONSISTENTLY BEEN VIEWED AS ABOVE AVERAGE BY HIS STUDENTS AND DEPARTMENTAL COLLEAGUES.>
“In support of this mission the University… enables an academic environment which values and promotes free, active and original intellectual inquiry among its faculty and students.”
Do you believe that you continue to enable an academic environment which promotes free and active intellectual inquiry when student editors are no longer free to publish the University News without fear of retribution for content that speaks negatively of the administration? And when a tenured professor is physically barred from interacting with students as they work on the paper he has fostered for more than three decades?

<IF THE EDITORS WERE CONCERNED ABOUT RETRIBUTION, THE PAPER WOULD BE A FARCE.  TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, THEY DO NOT HAVE THAT FEAR.  JASON YOUNG, THE PAPER’S ADVISOR, MADE ONE POINT ABOVE ALL OTHERS WHEN HE WAS HIRED — THAT HE WOULD NOT ACT IN ANY WAY TO CENSOR WHAT THE STUDENTS REPORTED; RATHER, HE WOULD ATTEMPT TO SEE THAT THEY WRITE WELL AND DO THEIR RESEARCH.  THIS, TO ME, IS EDUCATION.  WITH RESPECT TO YOUR SECOND POINT,  BARRING DR. MEYER FROM THE NEWSROOM HAS NOTHING TO WITH FREE AND ACTIVE ACADEMIC — OR OTHER — INQUIRY; IT HAS TO DO WITH THE CATEGORY YOU REFERENCE IN THE MISSION STATEMENT AS SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY — IN THIS CASE STUDENTS AND STAFF.  FOR ME TO GO FURTHER IS TO MOVE INTO PRIVATE PERSONNEL SPACE.>
“…maintains and encourages programs which link the University and its resources to its local, national, and international communities in support of efforts to alleviate ignorance, poverty, injustice, and hunger, to extend compassionate care to the ill and needy, and to maintain and improve the quality of life for all persons.”

According to Father Biondi’s March 2008 State of the University address, the university had already spent more than $18,000 in legal fees associated with the case against Dr. Meyer. In the spirit of extending compassionate care, why has the university continued its battle with Dr. Meyer rather than devoting its resources toward alleviating ignorance and injustice? In fact, with tens of thousands of dollars devoted to lawyers, I wonder if the university’s tendency to draw out the litigation process and drive up legal fees is not an effort to drive another into poverty.

<DR. MEYER SOUGHT TO TAKE FOR HIS OWN A TRADEMARK OF THE UNIVERSITY’S.  HE WAS ASKED, EARLY ON, TO RELEASE HIS CLAIM AND COMMIT NEVER AGAIN TO DOING THAT.  INSTEAD, HE REFUSED, AND SO LITIGATION HAS CONTINUED.  SHOULD THE UNIVERSITY HAVE IGNORED THIS THREAT?  WHILE SOME MIGHT ANSWER NO AND OTHERS YES, I TRUST MOST ORGANIZATIONS WOULD WISH TO DEFEND WHAT IS THEIRS THROUGH REASONABLE MEANS.  THAT’S WHAT WE’RE DOING.>

“…nurtures within its community an understanding of and commitment to the promotion of faith and justice in the spirit of the Gospels.”

It is my understanding that the Jesuit ideals that SLU strives to embody are based upon promoting good to its fullest extent, loving and not casting judgment. To quote an employee at Boston College, Jesuit ideals are based upon the “life and mission of Jesus Christ, who welcomed children, ate with sinners, defended the vulnerable, and proclaimed the Reign of God. Any activity claiming to represent Jesuit ideals will reflect these same priorities.” I contend that SLU’s Mission will not be realized in an environment characterized by censorship and apathy.

<THERE IS NEITHER CENSORSHIP NOR APATHY HERE, AND WE’RE WILLING TO “EAT WITH SINNERS.”  I.E., CONTRARY TO SOME OF WHAT’S BEEN WRITTEN, THE UNIVERSITY HAS SIMPLY REQUESTED TWO THINGS: (1) A FULL RELEASE OF DR. MEYER’S LEGAL CLAIM AND (2) HIS AGREEMENT TO ALLOW THE PAPER TO FUNCTION UNDER ITS CHARTER WITHOUT HIS INTERFERENCE.  HE IS NOT BEING ASKED ANYTHING WE WOULDN’T ASK OF ANY OTHER FACULTY OR STAFF MEMBER.>

“…wisely allocates its resources to maintain efficiency and effectiveness in attaining its mission and goals.”

With thousands of dollars invested in legal proceedings, not to mention late nights, furrowed brows and frustration over these matters, I can only hope that the leadership at Saint Louis University can continue to make wise allocations of its resources. I do not purport to know the whole story and I am left to rely upon public records, media coverage and the blogs and e-mails of concerned community members. In my last letter to you, I requested the truth regarding the situation, including the motives of the university in its continued legal proceedings and how I can further express my opposition to such actions.

<IT IS NOT EFFICIENT TO RESPOND TO YOU OR OTHERS, AND IT IS PROBABLY OF LIMITED EFFECTIVENESS.  BUT I RESPOND, IN LARGE MEASURE, BECAUSE THAT’S HOW I WAS RAISED — BY MY PARENTS AND THE JESUITS.  DESPITE WHAT THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ME MAY THINK, MY UPBRINGING ALSO DEEPLY INFORMS THE SPIRIT IN WHICH I CONDUCT THE UNIVERSITY’S BUSINESS.>

I understand that you cannot comment on personnel matters, but I would sincerely appreciate your insight regarding how this campaign furthers the university’s mission.

Regards,

Colleen Jaycox

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