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The Mount is missing the point

March 12, 2013

Some institutions display a remarkable ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

I had never heard of the College of Mount St. Joseph (Ohio) and certainly had no reason to think negatively of it. Not, that is, until I read the unnerving statement it issued in response to the resignation of its Dean of Arts and Humanities, one Sr. Marguerite Kloos, in the wake of the dean being charged with voter fraud in 2012 election (Kloos submitted an absentee ballot in the name of a co-religionist who had died about a month earlier).

Did the college say, for example, “We have accepted the resignation of Sr. Marguerite Kloos as Dean of Arts and Humanities and take the occasion of this unfortunate event to underscore our commitment to modeling, for students and the community alike, personal integrity in civic affairs, including in the voting process which, of course, is a cornerstone of our free and democratic process.”

Nope. Instead the college stated “As a valued member of the Mount community, our thoughts are with [Kloos] during this difficult time.” Good grief.

Setting aside the skewered syntax of the sentence, is one who cheats the electoral process still a “valued member of the Mount community”? Really? And who exactly occasioned Kloos’ difficulties in the first place? Were they imposed by uncontrollable outside forces? Or did Kloos visit this mess upon herself, her college, and her religious community by forging and submitting a falsified ballot? Kloos herself has issued no statement, but it appears that she is not contesting the accusation and will take the consequences like a grown-up. In that respect, at least, she is actually behaving with more regard for the common good than is her college.

Look, any institution can have members, maybe even leaders, who act wrongly; it’s unreasonable to expect institutions to foresee every possible offense a member might commit and hire only those who are incapable of committing same (as if there were even possible). But, when a member, let alone a leader, of a group does foul up big time, it’s important that the group clearly indicate its recognition that the offense was an offense and reaffirm the values that were damaged by one of its own.

Or, it can miss the point and shoot itself in the foot.


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