Taking a critical look at some university policy

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I was hoping this might be published this week:

WWAD: What Would Augustine Do?

I would like to preface the following remarks with a statement about myself. I am a senior here at Villanova who is proud to be a Wildcat and proud of the education I have received here. Like any proud individual I feel it is my duty to speak out (if nobody else will) against anything I feel is unjust or not right with the institution to which I so vehemently offer my allegiance. I was lucky enough in early December to be invited to New York City for the kickoff of Villanova’s newest capital campaign held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The event spared no expense in making Villanova’s most treasured donors feel comfortable. With champagne amidst Renoirs and dinner among ancient Egyptian ruins it was truly something to experience. Among the guests were alumni, some students, faculty, and clergy. What a truly stylish way to kick off this new campaign. But was it true to the university’s spirit? Was it furthermore true simply to Villanova’s mission? I recently came upon an add for Villanova’s Law School in a recent issue of Commonweal. Underneath Villanova’s seal (which I will remind you reads Truth, Unity, and Love) read the following caption. Villanova University is a Catholic and Augustinian institution that seeks to reflect the spirit of St. Augustine by the cultivation of knowledge, by respect for individual differences and by adherence to the principal that mutual love and respect should animate every aspect of the law school’s life. I would assume that one can delete the word “law” and see that those are the values that Villanova as an undergraduate university hopes to live by as well. Truly this is the spirit of the university. Augustine has encouraged through his text an endless desire for knowledge for knowledge sake. Even our namesake, St. Thomas of Villanova who dedicated his life to the poor is something we constantly use to focus our actions. We are sinking fast and I feel its time to bilge the leak before it takes the entire ship down. I believe that we have an identity crisis on our hands and it is rearing its ugly head in the form of basic fiscal mismanagement and secular economic principals. In church we praise St. Thomas for his dedication to the poor, we even take up a collection in honor of it. However, in the city we reward the wealthy with unnecessarily lavish soirées. We encourage the independent formulation of ideas and opinions but we have recently canceled the newspaper readership program on campus relegating students to fighting over the two free copies provided in the library or paying for them at the Connelly candy counter (sans candy). If this university is going to accomplish any of its 10-year goals, including perhaps the most important goal of becoming a nationally competitive university as opposed to a regionally competitive one, we must look at what we value and right now are check stubs tell a contradicting story. We must cease the relentless pursuit of higher SAT scores if it means offering Presidential Scholarships to students like Mike Huber (Dec. 10 Villanovan) who only plan to traipse the Villanova name through the mud. I believe that Augustine would sigh at our crusade to award students based on quantifiable measurements of knowledge instead of rewarding students with independent and unique ideas. We must likewise stop the athletic scholarship and exorbitant salaries given to students and coaches who have, until lately, provided a slew of negative press for the university. We must take Augustine’s and Thomas of Villanova’s teachings to heart. While we constantly encourage them in the classroom we must be sure that our collective decisions for the Villanova community are also in line with them. This is our identity and something that cannot be compromised. So what would Augustine do?