Mount St. Mary’s University President, Simon Newman, allegedly planned to “cull” any first-year students that were struggling to help boost retention rates. Newman reportedly told his staff to provide lists of students that met certain criteria that deemed them more likely to drop out. However, when teachers and staff refused to participate in the “cull,” Newman allegedly told them that the students were not “cuddly bunnies” and that they should just “drown” the bunnies or put “a Glock to their heads.”
The Daily Mail reports that Mount St. Mary’s University President Simon Newman was hoping to increase retention rate by dismissing struggling students before the fall semester cutoff date. However, when Simon Newman allegedly requested lists of students that met the criteria of potential drop-out, the teachers and administrators reportedly refused to participate. Teachers who claim they were presented with the idea felt it would be detrimental to the school because it could cut out potentially successful students since it is “impossible” to tell who will succeed based on just a few weeks at the university.
— Philosophy Web (@PhilosophyWeb) January 20, 2016
However, when they presented the president with their concerns, Newman allegedly told them to stop treating the students like “cuddly bunnies.” Instead, he allegedly told the staff that there “would be some collateral damage,” but it was necessary. He went on to tell the staff that they should just “drown the bunnies” or “put a Glock to their heads.”
“This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies. But you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”
According to the Mountain Echo, after deciding to submit a draft of the article they would run in the university’s student paper, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees responded to their report by calling it the “product of a disgruntled employee.”
“Less than 25 minutes after the Echo sent the article, Chairman of the Board of Trustees John E. Coyne III responded in an email directed to the Board and The Mountain Echo’s faculty advisor, Professor Ed Egan. Mr. Coyne wrote that the story was ‘the product of a disgruntled employee and the creative and destructive imagination of a student being spoon fed his information.'”
However, the student paper says that the assertions that the journalist for the paper was “spoon-fed” information is incorrect. They note that the journalist went through an exhaustive process to ensure the information presented was verified, including the viewing of emails between involved parties.
“This assertion is highly inaccurate. The reporter in question spent nearly two weeks verifying the claims made by each source, confirming the timing of events and investigating the issue itself thoroughly. The reporter did so while taking into account the advice of the Echo’s university-appointed faculty advisor and the advice of outside journalists. In short, the reporter’s methods were found by several people to be thorough and exhaustive—highly professional.”
The paper also pointed out that they didn’t have to submit a draft to the president’s office, however, they chose to do so in order to get an official statement and rebuttal from President Simon Newman. In response to the Chairman of the Board of Trustee’s response to the article, the student paper has released a timeline of the events that allegedly transpired and the reporting method. The editor of the paper has also released an email statement from the Board of Trustees that calls the piece “irresponsible.”
“The slant that you have adopted by choosing to publish an article based on selected quotes of confidential email exchanges among senior faculty is quite frankly irresponsible. Equally troubling, however, is the fact that you, as the Managing Editor of the Echo, and apparently your faculty advisor, have become privy to confidential email communications among faculty colleagues, a violation of Code of Conduct at the Mount and the ‘fair use’ policy of our electronic email system.”
Following the article’s publication, many are calling for Newman to resign.
What do you think about the Mount St. Mary’s University student publication, the Mountain Echo, publishing the confidential emails?
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