Phi Beta Cons

Humanity Loses

Political correctness doesn’t get sadder than this. Dean Jodi Kelly of  Matteo Ricci College, a small humanities-focused college within Seattle University, has resigned.

The resignation is a victory for students who held a three-week sit-in at the college’s main administration building in May. The students demanded the departure of Dean Kelly and, indeed, she was placed on leave during the protest. The president of Seattle University said that eight out of the school’s 17 faculty also wanted the dean’s resignation and that there were charges of discrimination that had to be investigated along with other issues. 

“Our number-one value is we listen to students first,” the president told the Seattle Times.

Ostensibly, the sit-in was because the humanities college’s curriculum isn’t sufficiently diverse. But fueling the passion was the claim that Dean Kelly had used a slur in front of students. As a matter of fact, however, she was recommending comedian Dick Gregory’s book Nigger.

The MRC Coalition published its demands on a petition website, with an introduction pointing out:

The Humanities program as it exists today ignores and erases the humanity of its students and of peoples around the globe. Humanity is defined as the human race, and as such studies in humanity must be about human beings collectively. We are diverse, with many different life experiences, also shaped by colonization, U.S. and Western imperialism, neo-liberal politics, and oppression under racist, sexist, classist, heteronormative and homophobic, trans*phobic, queerphobic, ableist, nationalistic, xenophobic systems, which perpetuate conquest, genocide of indigenous peoples, and pervasive systemic inequities.

The demands ranged from revision of the “Eurocentric” curriculum to requiring faculty training by a “non-racist network from Seattle such as the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond.”

Kelly has been dean since 2012. Before that she was a popular professor who was named Seattle University’s Outstanding Faculty of the Year in 2011.

One can’t help but doubt that the students at Matteo Ricci understand what to expect at a humanities college with a strong Jesuit tradition.

Jane S. Shaw — Jane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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