All We Are Asking Is That You Give Peace A Chance. Also, Shut Up Or Else.

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34 Responses

  1. Ken says:

    Dear Ms. Biggs Arrowood:

    I write for Popehat.com, a small blog that covers issues including freedom of expression and threats thereto. One of our favored topics is the nature, ethics, and consequences of threatening letters calculated to chill speech.

    Today I noticed that the free-speech-advocacy group FIRE featured a story about your threatening letter to critics of Peace College: http://thefire.org/article/14257.html

    I have determined to write about the matter, as I have about other similar threats.

    I write now to solicit your comment about the matter.

    Specifically:

    1. Why did your letter not specify what specific statements in the critical letter were (allegedly) false? Is it your position — and Peace College's position — that any criticism of the administration of Peace College is objectionable? If, in fact, your implicit threat was in good faith, why did you fail to specify any particular allegedly false statement?

    2. Was your letter intended to coney a threat of legal action, perhaps for defamation? If so, why did you not say so explicitly?

    3. Your letter complains of an "intent to deliberately and improperly interfere with the University's relationships with its various constituencies." Would you care to articulate the legal basis on which it would be wrongful, under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, for critics to criticize the schools' administration, even if the critics' intent were to interfere with the school's constituencies?

    4. Would you like to comment on whether you are familiar with the Streisand Effect? When you sent this letter on behalf of your client, did you first inform your client that the natural and probable effect of your threats was that the number of people reading the allegedly objectionable letter would increase by between one and five orders of magnitude? If you were not aware of that, or did not inform your clients of that, do you believe your actions reflected the level of competence required of attorneys under applicable ethical laws of your state?

    5. Do you have any other comment about FIRE's story that you would like to make on your own behalf or on behalf of your client, Peace College?

    Thank you.

  2. TJIC says:

    > FIRE is awesome.

    Indeed.

    I'd put them in my will for half of my net worth, but I don't think they really want that much debt.

  3. PLW says:

    Ms. Arrowood is a member of the Panel of Neutrals for the American Arbitration Association and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution and regularly serves as an arbitrator.

    Is it ad hominem to suggest that she should play Dolores Umbridge in the stage adaptation of Harry Potter?

  4. I wonder if this is one of the tactics put forth in "Leading with Care," the book in which Ms. Biggs Arrowood is featured?

    Her experience, as listed on her page, does not seem to be heavy on first amendment related issues. On the other hand, she does claim to "She resolves problems that threaten your business." She just does not say how.

  5. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    First off, any college that is going coed for reasons other than financial survival is doing its heritage a disservice. My father was a Princeton alumni. When Princeton went coed, he started making his annual contributions to my mother's college, Smith, which had not. There are good coed schools out there. Lots of them. Single sex education is rarer. It should be preserved, if only for variety.

    That said, half of the "college administration catches some criticism, college admin goes postal" problem (and it's common enough) is that the colleges are the natural habitat of the Western Intellectual Elitists. They seriously think of themselves are smarter, a position that might be defensible, and better educated ON ALL SUBJECTS than the general run of troglodytes. They see their mission in life as being to bring the education of the children of the Trogs up to some sort of minimum standard. They try very hard to produce generation after generation of students who all hold the same (liberal/progressive) opinions. They look down on anybody who isn't an academic, and many who are (hard sciences, in particular, where opinions must be backed by data). And when the Trogs DARE to criticise they tend to have hissy catfits.

    Lots of fun to watch, usually. They are bad debaters, since they tend to use the Argument From Authority even when they have better ammunition. They also tend to believe, right up until the boom gets lowered, that Moral Superiority trumps actual Law.

    Let's hope this lot get a nice public reaming.

  6. Sharon Brown says:

    Thank you for your post on this issue. I am one of the 40 signatories on the Preserve Peace College letter. C.S.P. Schofield which commented above – WOW! What you have written so eloquently describes the "types" we find ourselves up against.

  7. EH says:

    It should be preserved, if only for variety.

    History tells us this will never be the case.

  8. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    EH,

    Historically, all kinds of odd institutions of Higher Learning have hung on for centuries. We can but hope.

    Sharon Brown,

    My thanks! My father was a Professor, so I lived a fair amount of my life amongst these people. They were scared of Father, though.

  9. mojo says:

    You'd think they'd learn, wouldn't you?

  10. Sheila Spencer Stover says:

    Thank you for the concise manner in which you presented and over viewed the problems, secrecy, run a way train actions of the Peace College/William Peace University administration, board and legal staff. Alumnae, supporters, students, parents have, in the past year and a half, made every attempt to learn, understand, get answers, to the questions hundreds of hours of research, documentation have brought to the surface. As a signatory of the referenced letter, mother of 3 Peace graduates, an educator in my own baliwick– watching an academic tsunami and meltdown take place within the walls of Peace College has been disheartening, disturbing.

  11. jb says:

    "2. Was your letter intended to coney a threat of legal action, perhaps for defamation? If so, why did you not say so explicitly?"

    When you coney a threat, you cause your legal troubles to breed like rabbits?

  12. Ken says:

    I decided it would be dishonest to repair typos in the repeat here.

  13. Scott Jacobs says:

    When you coney a threat, you cause your legal troubles to breed like rabbits?

    Yes, and very quickly…

    Before Ze Germans get there.

  14. Elizabeth Bashore says:

    Wonderful article! Thank you for calling them out. "Bullshit thuggery" – well, that pretty much sums it up.

  15. Amy says:

    I too am one of the 40 signatories on the Preserve Peace College letter. The Peace I knew and loved taught women how to be courageous, independent thinkers. The only thing I’ve seen WPU demonstrate is threats to alumni, as well as current students.
    When the new changes by WPU were protested last summer, current students were threatened not to join the protest. Some feared they would be kicked out of school, others didn't want to risk losing scholarships. Legally, WPU could not punish them for exercising their right to protest outside the gates. Also, let’s not forget that the first day of protest, the internet was down on campus. Coincidence? I think not.
    Anyway, we thank you for bringing this to the attention of the public. We need support from the media and the community. They think they can intimidate, but they should never underestimate.

  16. Craig Mazin says:

    Ken:

    Great article as always. Thank God FIRE is out there exposing this idiocy.

    I did want to mention one thing to CSP Schofield… I met my wife while we both attended Princeton. I, for one, am super duper happy it went coed back in 1969. My kids are even happier.

  17. Amy says:

    The true issue isn’t about the school becoming co-ed. Honestly, the 'leaders' of this school have no idea what they’re doing.
    @Ken: When Princeton became co-ed, the school, as a whole, was preserved, right? This is not the case here. Peace has been completely transformed into something almost unrecognizable. Many of the elite faculty and staff were fired or forced them into early retirement (this is a separate law suit). The school has also dissolved many significant majors, severed ties with the Presbyterian Church, and alumni do not feel welcome on campus.

  18. Karen says:

    Thanks for the coverage of this issue. There is a great travesty happening at this venerable institution that we need people to pay attention to. Put a corporate raider on your Board of trustees and this what you get.

  19. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Amy,

    My father, who was an old reactionary who by choice lived his life in the 18th century (on which he was an expert regarding History of Science and Technology), maintained that Princeton was morphing into a second-rate University of Michigan. You have to remember, though, that his Princeton was circa WWII, and ALL Universities and Colleges were drastically changed by the influx of students after WWII.

    The fact remains, though, that the Western Intellectual Elitists who gradually took over much of our institutions of Higher Education starting in the 1950's are not, by and large, actual scholars. And what my father loved about Princeton (and academia in general) was the scholarship. He was a scholar by avocation and had scant patience for ideological preachers in tenured positions … especially those that felt that the world owed them a soft life, seldom did actual scholarship, and even more rarely published. He was well aware that his kind of scholarship was a luxury good, was somewhat puzzled that society saw fit to pay for it, and tried his damndest to give value for money by writing several books, and mentoring other scholars. He loved students who would argue with him, too.

    Anyway; going cooed necessarily changed Princeton. Happening at a different time, it certainly didn't change the same way that a school going cooed now would change.

  20. Paula Ward says:

    I deeply appreciate your comments on the controversy at Peace College. My daughter applied to 17 colleges, was accepted to all, but chose Peace for its heritage, traditions, and reputation. She absolutely loved her first year. But, by the middle of her third semester, she hated it. All the things she loved have been taken away. Majors have been disolved or merged into something that doesn't quite make sense. Beloved professors have been dismissed. Parents and alumni are not welcome on campus. While the administration has repeatedly said the change is not for financial reasons, they have yet to clearly specify the reason for the change. Now, to top off the absolute insanity of it all, they are offering summer school classes, but NOT housing for out of state students. Excuse me? Where are these students supposed to live–in the dumpster? And lastly, what is up with the horrible lime-green parking tickets stuck to windshields that WON'T come off?

  21. Jim says:

    I was not one of the individuals who signed the letter identified in your blog and the one posted by the Fire. Had I been aware of efforts to prepare such a letter, I would have submitted a request to add to and have my signature affixed to the letter.

    As the parent of a Peace College graduate and one who has worked with and supported the College under its previous three Presidents, I have carefully followed the events that have taken place during the last two years at Peace College (now William Peace University ). Over the years, I have served on several Boards and Councils affiliated with the School, have established a scholarship and provided financial support for a number of capital campaigns at the School, and have long served as an advocate recommending to my friends and acquaintances with high school age daughters that they consider Peace College as their choice for higher education. That is no longer the case.

    I have witnessed the truth of what has been documented in the referenced letter, the postings here and at the Fire regarding the recent changes and handling of changes at WPU by the current Administration and Board of Trustees. My advice to students and parents considering William Peace University today is that they search diligently for reliable information (which probably means going beyond that which is readily available from the School) regarding what is currently taking place at WPU and consider what a degree from this school will be worth (assuming the School remains viable and a degree is obtained). For those considering significant donations and/or the establishment of endowments, at any school but especially at WPU, similar diligence should also be given to the provisions and wording of any “Understandings of Endowment” entered into with the school.
    School Administrators change and not always for the best or with a moral obligation to honor the agreements and understanding that preceded them if they can find a loop-hole to exploit.

  22. Ken says:

    We've gotten a whole lot of visits to this post from North Carolina, many originating from links in emails.

  23. Thomas Downing says:

    Wow.

    Also, a strong indicator of rational argument: frequent citations, which I note are present in the letter from the preservation group.

  24. Susan says:

    Ken,

    My daughter is currently a Junior at Peace. It has been a painful and difficult 18 months–especially the past 7 months–since the arrival of the new president. The most difficult issue has been having voices silenced while such drastic and curious changes have occurred. One almost feels as though one is muzzled and handcuffed…Until the FIRE article (THANK YOU Peter Bonilla!) and now your fine piece were published, I was beginning to lose hope that the truth of what is happening at William Peace University (aka Peace College) would ever be known to the greater public.
    I'm so grateful to you for writing this honest, hard-hitting post, and calling out the "censorious thugs" at WPU.

  25. Betsy says:

    Thanks for you thoughtful article exposing one of the tactics seemingly being employed at William Peace University to suppress constructive and well meant efforts to expose deception and violations of trust at this School since the arrival of its new President.

  26. Linus says:

    I don't know a thing about whether Peace should be co-ed or not, or whether the allegations made above by parents and alumni are true. So, in a way, I'm grateful for the bullshit legal threat; it's such a reliable indicator of which side knows they have the weaker position.

  27. John David Galt says:

    Something tells me Hillsdale will soon no longer be the only college that refuses federal money to avoid the controls that go with it. I only hope that this process can be hastened by making high school students aware of these situations in time to avoid the most censorious schools.

  28. Chris says:

    So Peace is a cooking/ home economics school right? Why would men want to go there anyway?

  29. Roger Smart says:

    Ah Ken,

    A joy to read as always. Still fighting the good fight with humor, sarcasm, and a bit of righteous anger. I've got to start proselytizing to my social network about the joys of reading Popehat.

  30. Susan says:

    Chris, you ask: "So Peace is a cooking/home economics school right?" Your question could be interpreted in a number of ways; if you ask out of sincere interest in determining the school's course offerings, one answer would be: Before the arrival of Debra Townsley, Peace College, a private baccalaureate women's college, offered 17 majors, 7 of which were cut last year in preparation of becoming a garden-variety co-ed "university." Peace has never been a home economics school or a cooking school, leaving such endeavors to the many fine, coeducational culinary arts colleges in the US. However, your question seems to ring more of sarcasm than sincerity, suggesting you to be ignorant of the validity and value of an all women's single-sex education. If you care to expand your point of view, you will find this timely article most elucidating: http://views.washingtonpost.com/leadership/panelists/2010/09/are-womens-colleges-still-needed.html

  31. Karen says:

    Et voila: The Streisand effect! Please note that the "falsehood" that the president of Peace cited in this article (that alumnae claimed enrollment was down) was not actually in the letter.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/03/10/1920351/peace-alumnae-grapple-with-this.html

  32. Scott Jacobs says:

    Please note that the "falsehood" that the president of Peace cited in this article (that alumnae claimed enrollment was down) was not actually in the letter.

    Would then the people who signed the letter have grounds to call her out, and demand a retraction/apology because she made a provably false statement?

  1. March 6, 2012

    [...] North Carolina's Peace College sends a nastygram to critics [Peter Bonilla, FIRE] More: Popehat. [...]

  2. March 8, 2012

    [...] up the gauntlet on this case yesterday, publishing a hard-hitting and characteristically witty takedown of the college's threats against the Preserve Peace College [...]