One student’s perspective: “What About Us?” John Jose, SMU Daily Campus, January 23, 2007
Then the student newspaper weighed in: “Speak out against the Institute,” SMU Daily Campus Editorial Board, January 26, 2007
The Young Conservatives of Texas issued a press release about their petition drive in support of the LMI on January 31, 2007.
The Library-Museum-Institute is becoming a key issue of alumni concern (see also the “Methodist Debate” bar. Here is where alumni and students can post their concerns. The following letter, sent to me after my comments in a Dallas Morning News Story on January 17th, is typical of those who have doubts about the wisdom of the library, and particularly the institute, coming to SMU.
Dear Ben,I am an alum’ of SMU, class of ’82. I came across your comments in the Dallas Morning News regarding the proposed George W. Bush library. I wanted to encourage you and the rest of the faculty to demand an open debate on affiliating our fine university with this president.
I am amazed at the current school administration’s level of secrecy and downright bullying during this process. It troubles me that the school has, it seems, already embraced some of the worst characteristics of this presidency. And that is without even having the Bush Institute “scholars” around saying that is how you best lead (maybe, in 1965, before we knew better but not now).
Anyway, I have in case you missed it attached a recent article from the NY Times regarding the newfound power of university faculty in making university administrations less than untouchable. It would seem to me a good message to get across to your leader, Dr. Turner and the Board of
Also, I’ve attached a copy of a letter to the editor that I recently forwarded to The Daily Campus. In it you can see my argument for why in the eyes of a branding expert (of which I am) this potential affiliation puts the SMU reputation at some risk something I think the administration and the Board of Trustees are not really supposed to do.
So, please make use of your authority to question some of these decisions. And may SMU always remain the place that it is to me (and to many others): a place and a people devoted to the highest of noble principles.
David A. Cole
Another alum commented at the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s blog:
As an alumnus of SMU and an academic, I live in dread that my alma mater will grow to be thought of as the Neo-con Harvard. Dr. Freidel’s comments suggest that no institutional or academic oversight will exist to prevent an explosion of ill-considered and weak “research” promoted by partisan “experts” claiming to represent SMU publicly. I do not look forward to trying to explain the associated/not associated nature of the institute for the rest of my professional life.
— Ben Passmore Jan 26, 10:53 AM
Yet another alum commented on January 31, 2007, in a letter to the Lufkin Daily News:
I am one of those who is strongly opposed to SMU accepting the Bush II library and think-tank, and I gladly signed the petition.
I am a 1961 SMU graduate. I fear that the Bush II library and think-tank are really designed to be a post-presidential bully pulpit for the administration, and venue for repairing President Bush’s reputation. We read in the press that the Bush library committee seeks to raise a half billion dollars for the project, with the intent of restoring the President’s image.
Would legitimate scholars be able to, or want to work in such an environment? Why should we think that President Bush would be any more interested in a policy of openness in his library than he has been during his terms as governor and president?
I remember the consternation generated among scholars and others when then Governor Bush decided to transfer his papers to the Bush I Library instead of allowing them to remain with the state. Then, did not President Bush issue an executive order extending the time in which presidential papers are to remain sealed? Have we not read over and over again in the press how the Bush Administration has suppressed or twisted legitimate reports on many subjects, including global warming?
And, is not this most tragic and disastrous of wars in Iraq the result of suppression of truth?
Finally, one wonders to what extent the library and the think tank would somehow adversely influence academic freedom at SMU. No, I see no reason to believe that the Bush II library and think-tank would in any way enhance SMU’s reputation. These entities might bring in donations and maybe even academic chairs, but would all of that be ill-gotten gain in the end and constitute a disservice to the American people?
“Student Letters in the Daily Campus,” February 17, 2007.