Monday, April 11, 2005

The power of the internet or an empty gesture?

Drama continues to percolate amidst the graduates of my alma mater. My previous posting on the changes in OBU's policy on sexuality are apparently only a symptom of a much deeper disaffection. The recent firing of the public relations director due to his public criticism of a significant church in the small town of Shawnee (read about it here) along with enrollment and retention issues going back several years have prompted the following website:

Following the link will bring you to an online petition asking for President Mark Brister's resignation. At last check, eleven signatures have been added but only five have chosen not to remain anonymous. Also unfortunate is the fact that the rationale behind this democratic move is not clearly enunciated. For those of us on the fringe of the OBU loop, information is severely lacking. While I too have been concerned with the more restrictive administrative moves made over the last few years as well as the reduced emphasis on the unified studies program, I am not sure yet whether I feel comfortable signing this petition. What do other OBU alum think?

Beyond the debate over Brister's administrative success lies the question of whether such efforts can accomplish their stated goals. Can anonymous declarations carry the force needed to engender change? Can an online petition collect the necessary political and economic clout? Perhaps the goals of the petition-makers are much more humble. What this petition may achieve is the slow eye-opening of alums to the changes occurring at their alma mater and that may be half the battle.