The Incompetent James Wagner, President Of Emory College

Trump 2016

The incident was simple and easily handled for any college president with a modicum of common sense, respect for free speech, and a comprehension of the needs of basic higher education. Unfortunately for Emory college, its students and stake-holders, James Wagner is not such a college president. He is, instead, a craven incompetent. Harsh? You decide.

At Emory, someone wrote the frightening words “Trump 2016” with chalk on a stair railing. Given that this is an election year and Donald Trump is running for President, such a scribble should be regarded as unremarkable. Oh, if it happened on a campus where I was enrolled, I might think, “Gee, apparently they accept idiots into this institution, and my degree may not be worth spit,” but that would be the extent of my dismay.

Ah, but it’s 2016, and thanks to the pusillanimous campus leadership at the University of Missouri, Duke, Occidental, Princeton, Yale and so many other places, college students nationwide have gotten it into their delicate heads that there is a basic human right to be shielded from any writing, words, slogans, pictures, historical references or sidelong glances that might upset their preconceived views of life in any way. Thus a group of Emory students who gasped with horror at “Trump 2016,” which is not only political speech but, unfortunately, mainstream political speech, went to Wagner and demanded action.

What Wagner should have said, following in the footsteps of the few college presidents who have shown themselves worthy of their jobs, is some version of what Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Dr. Everett Piper, wrote on his school’s website in response to similar student complaints on his campus:

Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic! Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims! Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen…

…If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn…if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them…We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” ….Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others…This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up…This is not a day care. This is a university!

Not James Wagner, though. In a pathetic message to the Emory community, he wrote…

“After meeting with our students, I cannot dismiss their expression of feelings and concern as motivated only by political preference or over-sensitivity. Instead, the students with whom I spoke heard a message, not about political process or candidate choice, but instead about values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory’s own.”

Ugh. Speech is not defined by what someone “hears.” A speaker, or a writer, is not to be condemned because he or she unknowingly stepped on some highly sensitive topic trip-wire, nor should speech be constrained because such traps exist. Moreover, a responsible and competent school cannot stifle opinions about its policies, including “diversity,” whatever that means.

“As an academic community, we must value and encourage the expression of ideas, vigorous debate, speech, dissent, and protest. At the same time, our commitment to respect, civility, and inclusion calls us to provide a safe environment that inspires and supports courageous inquiry. It is important that we recognize, listen to, and honor the concerns of these students, as well as faculty and staff who may feel similarly.”

Yes, again we have “authentic frontier gibberish,” or perhaps authentic academic political correctness gibberish. It is not courageous to insist that one must be “safe” from dissent or unpleasant opinions. Wagner kept digging…

On the heels of work begun by students last fall and advanced last month through the Racial Justice Retreat and subsequent working groups, Emory is taking a number of significant steps: 

• Immediate refinements to certain policy and procedural deficiencies (for example, our bias incident reporting and response process); 

• Regular and structured opportunities for difficult dialogues (like the Transforming Community Project of several years ago); 

• A formal process to institutionalize identification, review, and addressing of social justice opportunities and issues; and 

• Commitment to an annual retreat to renew our efforts. 

Concludes Reason: “Reminding students that they can sic the campus grievance bureaucracy on people who offend them further weakens Emory’s stated commitment to free speech.”

Exactly.

I don’t blame the students: they are supposed to be young, foolish, and full of bad ideas and naive views of the world. They are paying large amounts of money, however, to be disabused of these notions and prepared to be competent at real life, and Emory, among other institutions, is abdicating its duty to educate them. Where are the board members, alumni, donors and parents?

Wagner is incompetent, and his message should constitute a one-way ticket to the Failed College Presidents Home.

19 thoughts on “The Incompetent James Wagner, President Of Emory College

  1. I don’t absolve the students of responsibility. They are typically at least eighteen years old. Old enough to get married and have kids. Certainly old enough to have kids. Old enough to fight and die or be dismembered in the military and old enough to vote. Presumably they have high school diplomas. Are high schools just day care centers?

    I wonder what it cost Emory to buy that random Authentic Frontier Gibberish generator.

  2. The proper response from a university president is to give them the phone number for maintenance, so the students can put in a service request to have the chalk removed.

  3. Ugh! Anybody that would pay for their kid to go to this indoctrination factory with a college president like this needs to have their head examined.

    • Wayne said, “Ugh! Anybody that would pay for their kid to go to this indoctrination factory with a college president like this needs to have their head examined.”

      I think what this College President did was ignorant but did you think about you wrote before you submitted it?

      You’re no better than that college president or the opinion bigot students.

      Tell me, how is any parent to know all the opinions of any given college president; I’m pretty sure those opinions are not listed in college brochures?

      Do you realize that not everyone at any college holds the same opinion as the college president?

      Does everyone have to agree with you or else they “need to have their head examined”?

      • I will say, however, that a college President speaks for the institution unless the institution states otherwise by word or deed. And this isn’t just words—we have all of the measures he putting in place.

        Presuming that the intervention of headshrinkers is a hyperbole, I would agree with Wayne that once a parent knows that this is the school’s culture—and this kind of statement would be enough to do that unless he was fired in 24 hours—paying money to have one’s child immersed in it is irresponsible, indeed idiotic. Crazy, even.

        • Even for those parents where their students are already in the college?

          Having a serious parent/student heart-to-heart conversation about this kind of utter nonsense seems to be the more reasonable and sane approach instead of yanking the student out of the school trashing all that money spent for that semester and transferring the student to another school, scraping a bunch of credits, and the new college might not be a damn bit better? Let’s teach our children to flee when confronted with the opinions of opinion bigots, is that what we are going to teach them – hell no! I say confront these opinion bigots head on in their own back yard and expose them for the opinion bigots and anti-2nd Amendment freaks they truly are!

          It’s a completely different situation for new students applying to a college knowing full well that the president is an freaking PC idiot, in that case I agree with you and Wayne; but that was not what Wayne suggested.

          • Oops – clearly a brain fart “typo”!

            ” I say confront these opinion bigots head on in their own back yard and expose them for the opinion bigots and anti-2nd Amendment freaks they truly are!”

            should be

            ” I say confront these opinion bigots head on in their own back yard and expose them for the opinion bigots and anti-1st Amendment freaks they truly are!”

            Don’t ask me what caused me to type that cause I don’t know. Just a brain fart I guess.

          • I took Wayne’s position to be the latter only. Would I pull my kid out a school after, say, the Mizzou meltdown, or if my kid was screamed at and called a racist while trying to study in the Dartmouth library, with the BLM screamers being supported by administrators?

            Yes.

      • I stick by my position. When I was younger, I had a professor who was quite learned and after class one day, asked him what his opinion was of our involvement in the Vietnam War. He told me “The U.S. should never get involved in a land war in Asia.” I differed with him at the time, but it turned out that in this case, he was absolutely right. I didn’t worry about being downgraded for my differing opinion, although nowadays I would. I also didn’t feel any need to go running to a “safe space” like some kind of wimp.

  4. This is a pitifully accurate representation of the path that a growing number of our society have chosen. It won’t be too long before a majority of out society comes to a conclusion that it’s no longer be PC for the 1st Amendment to exist.

    I just finished the book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech a few weeks ago; I don’t agree with all of Powers conclusions but she brings to light what’s been going on at colleges across the USA.

    • Establishing specific ‘blinders’ to see only what one is ‘spozed to see?

      The reduction of vision, and the limitation of thought-parameters in a self-reducing intellectual environment, what a fun conversation that would be. I’m nostalgic for it already!

    • The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech.

      I reviewed it rather quickly and found it interesting. When one examines the stance that sees the gamut of left-wing issues as stifling free speech and free thinking, one must mention that we are speaking of an entire post-war trend in thought: feminism with its shrill insistences, its capacity to silence opposition, but too the ‘homosexual agenda’ which effectively uses the same tools: shaming and silencing those who see the questions differently. In ‘After the Ball: How America Will Conquer It’s Fear of Gays in the 90s’ that agenda is clearly spelled out: to turn the ‘straight’ person (and perspective) into the source of the problem.

      (I notice though that Powers roundly avoids another left-agenda tenet: race, multi-culturalism, and the social policy of engineering a ‘diverse’ culture, like a giant Walmart. How could it consider the issue and question of the destruction of white identity, or the war on white identity, which is very much an issue when one considers Trotskyist and Leninist infiltration strategies?)

      She focuses on the college campus as the zone where the politically correct is defined and enforced, and this brings to mind the notion of social indoctrination, self-patrolling, and a culture of the tattle-tale, the snitch, as well as the entire mind-frame which feels much better functioning through conformity than through independence. The idea is that certain aspect of liberality have ‘destroyed higher education’ is compelling.

      The Grammar of Self-Intolerance comes to mind: the thoughts that instinctively and automatically arise to prohibit certain ideas from coalescing.

      Based on many of the comments (on Amazon) many people seem on the verge of outrightly reacting to a social and intellectual (informational?) environment that they describe as something out of Mao’s cultural revolution. What will happen when they move from the sentimental position to one of action-taken? What will that action be?

      What campus or university environment can be held up as an example? One that countervails the ‘liberal campus’?

      But I will bet you 1000 roubles that this describes not only ‘the Left’ or liberalism and that it is not the left and liberalism that is completely at fault, but of a general failure to be able – to be interested in – thinking in free and independent terms, which may indeed mean examining things that the ‘conservative’ faction is just as uncomfortable as the liberal faction in examining.

      Just turn on Fox News (where Powell works essentially) and there you will get all the intellectual formation you need to see truly and accurately in our world and to make the right choices. (::: guffaws :::)

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