A crooked line at Villanova

I wrote last week about the new Maoist student evaluations adopted at Villanova University in “Villainy at Villanova” and in “Feel the truth, unity & love.” My object here is to support the message sent to the world from inside the belly of the beast by Professors Colleen Sheehan and James Matthew Wilson in their Wall Street Journal column “A mole hunt for diversity ‘bias’ at Villanova.” If you are an alum of Villanova, please let the administration know that you support the message too and you are not pleased by the administration’s evasive maneuvers.

The president and provost of Villanova responded at length to the Journal column on April Fool’s Day. I inferred from the date and the text that we might be in the hands of a wily satirist on the Villanova public relations team conveying a message of derision toward the signers between the lines. It’s possible, if unlikely.

On its face the statement conforms to another genre, this one of concealment by administrators of the institutions of higher learning. The statement is one of the many such soul-killing statements written in doublespeak and issued for public consumption by the leaders of such institutions. They denied that the new Maoist evaluations had any purpose other than “to provide guidance for internal self-improvement.”

The latest official pronouncement from Villanova comes by way of a letter to the editor of The Villanovan from the vice provost for academics. The letter was published on April 5. Close readers of the world, unite to read this in the third paragraph of the vice provost’s letter to the editor:

The intent of faculty performance-related questions is to help our professors and instructors improve their own teaching practices. Student feedback, in particular, is essential to ensuring that our teaching approaches are responsive and aligned with our ever-changing world. Feedback from select questions are also used by the University in decisions regarding faculty reappointment, promotion and salary.

Villanova is a nominally Catholic institution. The president and provost reminded us in their April Fool’s Day statement that Villanova’s motto is Truth, Unity, Love. If you think the Villanova administration could at least get its line straight as it responds to Professors Sheehan and Wilson, you’d be wrong.