Sometimes, you need to break the rules

Objection!

That is what the Law School students probably should have said to their administration leadership when advised not to question Jim McGlothlin’s racially insensitive remarks at the Leadership Luncheon Oct. 31, nor to leave, but to applaud him when he finished. The apologies from President Rowe and Dean Douglas, and even those from Mr. McGlothlin himself, obscure the larger point. This is far from the first time this admittedly generous individual has laid it on heavy at the college he has endowed.

In October 2006, then-President Gene Nichols removed a cross on display in the Wren Chapel after an objection was made by a non-Christian student. McLaughlin then rescinded his $12 million endowment. The pressure on Nichols grew — one local pastor introduced a cross of his own to an altar that had previously [and subsequently] been devoid of the device. The Board of Visitors ultimately removed Nichols from office early in 2008. The endowment and the cross were restored.

Colleges and universities chase donors; fundraising has become a major job descriptor for their presidents. But no one appreciates being forced to be a seat-warmer for an offensive guest speaker. Sometimes, the correct course of action is to defy the rules: rise and walk out.

Bruce P. Schoch

Williamsburg

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