I’m surprised it took two days for this stuff to hit the papers:
Students and faculty returned to campus after winter break to find that Boston College had quietly completed, without announcement or fanfare, an eight-year project to dramatically increase the presence of Roman Catholic religious symbols on campus. The additions are subtle but significant, as the university joins other Catholic institutions around the nation in visibly reclaiming its Catholic identity.
“The Christian art reflects our pride in and commitment to our religious heritage,” said Jack Dunn, BC’s spokesman.
Student reaction has been generally supportive, but among faculty, there is division over the appropriateness of the step. A meeting last month of arts and sciences department chairs turned into a heated argument over the classroom icons; a handful of faculty have written to the administration to protest, and some unsuccessfully circulated a petition asking to have crucifixes removed.
“I believe that the display of religious signs and symbols, such as the crucifix, in the classroom is contrary to the letter and spirt of open intellectual discourse that makes education worthwhile and distinguishes first-rate universities from mediocre and provincial ones,” Maxim D. Shrayer, chairman of the department of Slavic and Eastern languages and literatures, said in an interview.
Much to my surprise this Globe story was pretty balanced.
Inside higher ed give the anger a little more vent:
“A classroom is a place where I am supposed, as a teacher, to teach without any bias, to teach the truth. And when you put an icon or an emblem or a flag, it confuses the matter,” said Amir Hoveyda, the chemistry department chair.
“For 18 years, I taught at a university where I was allowed to teach in an environment where I felt comfortable. And all the sudden, without any discussion, without any warning, without any intellectual debate, literally during the middle of the night during a break, these icons appear,” Hoveyda said.
God knows how you can teach chemistry with a crucifix on the wall. I don’t know how Catholic high school teachers manage it.
Update: Michael Graham has fun with it:
“In the name of tolerance, TEAR DOWN THIS CROSS!”