We are often reminded of why we go to the University of Dallas. Professors, administrators and students remind each other that spending four years at UD is not just an opportunity for an intellectual education, but also a moral one.
Freshman required classes like Understanding the Bible and Philosophy and the Ethical Life encourage students to begin examining the roots of our understanding of law and virtue. From the Judeo-Christian moral tradition codified in Mosaic Law and the New Testament, to the ancient teachings of Plato and Aristotle, rising above our appetitive nature and aspiring to a greater respect and love for others is at the heart of what students read.
And we are not just expected to contemplate these ideas in class. Classes are meant to instill in us the proper way that we ought to live our lives. After studying the liberal arts, we have a deeper understanding of the choices we make.
So long as we continue to make the right choices, not the easy choices, we abide by the purpose and mission of the UD vision. The practical application of virtue is even more important than the study of it, for the latter without the former would be nothing more than hypocrisy or a severe lack of self-awareness.
However, not all the ideals and virtues that are supposedly embraced by the university seem to apply uniformly to everyone in our community.
Expectations of honesty, integrity and fairness, among many other good qualities, are expected of students, who usually rise to the occasion. However, these qualities do not seem to apply to those in the most powerful positions who publicly represent our school.
Administrators make covert decisions and then inform the faculty, alumni and students after the fact.
The massively unpopular decision of gutting the Cap Bar, moving the bookstore from a central location and turning Haggar into a massive food hall was met with outcry, but only after the decision was ostensibly made.
The decision to replace President Thomas Keefe early was not made by the community, but made for unknown reasons by the tight-lipped board of trustees.
Many alumni have critiques of the school, but they are not given a lot of representation in decisions that affect the future of the culture and quality of UD, despite the fact that they are petitioned annually for donations to the school.
The alumni have been given greater input since taking grassroots action in the form of a lively Facebook page. The ‘new college’ was also shut down after grassroots protesting, but is this enough representation for the people whose lives are the most intimately affected by the administration’s decisions?
Admittedly, there is a limit to what the students, faculty and alumni should have knowledge of at any given time. Sensitive and personal matters should certainly not become the fodder for useless gossip. However, when it comes to appointing people to important positions, drastic renovations of the school and upheavals of the curriculum, the voices of all members of the community should be allowed to be stronger.
Alumni, students and faculty should have opportunities for informed and constructive dialogue, and they should be given access to channels beyond Facebook posts, newspaper columns and civic demonstrations on the Mall.