Wednesday, August 08, 2007


A Moral Fraud

In the July 5, 2007 letter from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges to New College of California, WASC executive director Ralph Wolff states, "The Commission has well appreciated the mission of New College throughout its history with WASC, and it is largely as a consequence of this special mission that the Commission has been so forbearing in its actions with relation to the College." But as we have discovered in horrifying detail through discussions with alumni since then, this mission is a fraud. Not only a fraud perpetrated against WASC and the U.S. Department of Education, but, more importantly, a fraud against hopeful students, upright faculty, and conscientious staff. In other words, a moral fraud.

While WASC rightly focuses on the board of trustees' fiduciary neglect of academic integrity, financial transparency, and democratic governance, New College alumni/ae are forced to deal with the consequences of the board's long-term malign neglect of the entire New College community. Part of our response is to help our members come to terms with the enormity of the violations of social norms and human dignity over thirty years by the school's callous cabal of Peter Gabel, Mildred Henry, and Martin Hamilton. Another aspect of our engagement is to assist those harmed in seeking relief--legally, psychologically, as well as ethically. Seeing the school brought into compliance with the ethical requirements detailed in the WASC letter is but one part of our overall task of recreating the narrative of our alma mater; redevelopment of the school's policies and practices does not, however, address the serious moral issues that need to be aired through a formal process of truth-telling. For that, we have no agency to rely on; it is up to us to hold the trustees morally accountable.

In our many posts on this topic, we have written of the acute suffering by staff, students, and faculty maliciously harassed by the trustees and their administrative accomplices over the past two decades, but the full impact of this psychological brutality is only comprehendable when one reads or listens to testimony by those grievously harmed. In the following excerpt from just one of the many comments we've received from former humanities, law, and graduate psychology students and faculty, one begins to understand what we're talking about and why a community response is in order.

Must we keep silent in our suffering for the greater good of keeping a progressive institution going? It is like asking an abused child not to speak of their abuse lest their abuser be held accountable, be jailed. I call upon all students of color and their allies of any race, who have been harmed by the financial and racial predation of New College Of California and New College Of California School Of Law, to join a class action law suit against the school, it’s board of directors, selected faculty and selected administrators for the intentional infliction of economic and emotional distress; for the negligent infliction of economic and emotional distress; for breech of their fiduciary duty; for inducing and concealing fraud; for betrayal of the public trust. The burden of keeping New College afloat is too great for us to bear. It is time for the consequences of the school’s predation to rest on the shoulders of those who are/were most responsible.


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