Unjust Firings at Mount Saint Mary's

The president of Mount Saint Mary's University in Maryland made headlines recently when he used metaphors of drowning and execution to explain a new policy of culling academically weaker students from the first-year herd.

"You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads."

When faculty objected to this policy and this rhetoric, university president and former hedge fund manager Simon Newman summarily fired them, ignoring due process and tenure protections.

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Update (2/12/2016): Simon Newman says he's giving up retaliatory firing for Lent.

Update (2/15/2016): In an odd, yet not wholly unexpected twist, some student-government types have engineered a poll in support of Newman and, presumably, of the idea that some students should be held underwater, i.e. dismissed based on a controversial (and possibly illegal) survey.

The American Catholic Philosophical Association (ACPA) has issued a strong statement to both Newman and the Board of Trustees.

Firing faculty who challenge the potential abuse of students by the administration is a clear violation of those rights of conscience that the Church upholds as necessary to a Catholic institution, a clear act of injustice. Each member of the Board of Trustees should be prepared to explain how either the treatment of the students or the firings of faculty are “in accord with [the Mount’s] Catholic identity.”

Most recently, in acting to reinstate on a suspended basis the two faculty members fired from the university, Mr. Newman is reported to have stated that it was an act of “mercy” to do so. In this Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, this claim is a particularly egregious affront to both mercy and justice. One does not act mercifully by ceasing to act unjustly. This statement is particularly outrageous coming from the president of a Catholic university, which by its very nature is charged with the sacred duty of mercy in advancing the education of those students it has invited into its community.

Note that the ACPA is not the same as the American Philosophical Association (APA), whose board has also issued a statement.

Update (2/29/2016): Newman has resigned.

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