President McClure’s Vindictive Conduct is Unpresidential

WATCHING ADAMS COMMENTARY – 2/17/17

As if to confirm her previous disqualifying statements and behaviors, Adams State University President Beverlee McClure went out of her way to demonstrate how unprepared and ineffective she is at leading the university. By spending the university’s time and resources assailing campus critics rather than addressing urgent problems, McClure is allowing the university to plummet in favor of defending her own ego. And the campus is worse for it.

Taking into account the president’s recent diatribe, “President’s Message on Cyber Bullying,” it is patently obvious that she does not understand how to effectively govern an academic community of diverse perspectives amidst challenging times. Rather than chasing down any and every voice of dissent, McClure should be taking them into consideration with respect and reflection and moving forward as being above the fray. By making a sustained and vindictive practice of retaliating against her critics, McClure is demonstrating a lack of confidence or guiding principles in her own presidential leadership.

Her statement also demonstrates a complete lack of irony or awareness on several levels. It can easily be argued that McClure began using the office of president almost immediately to assail critics across campus – from those with competing ideas or suggestions (“so negative!” “toxic people!” ) outright banning members of the public from campus and falsely claiming they are engaging in “terrorism” and on a non-existent police watch list (Ledonne), to humiliating them in front of the campus as being “sexist” for trying to help her resolve the ban (Elison, Waddell) or compelling them to “resign” with a signing statement she clearly wrote herself (Gilmer). It is pure psychological projection for President McClure to posture online about “cyber bullying” when it is painfully obvious that she is the largest bully on the ASU campus.

With this statement, President McClure also rehashes her favored rhetorical crutch: claiming that she is somehow carrying the mantle for “women, minorities, and members of the LBGTQ community.”  Is she remotely aware of how many victims of her own bullying are women, minorities or from the LGBTQ community?  And not just unkind words, but presiding over an institution that ostracizes them to the point of termination or resignation.  Make no mistake: President McClure would love to make the criticism of her about “sexism” because it allows her to evade the trappings of her own poor performance in the job.  President McClure’s gender card has been played and it isn’t convincing.

On campus, intimidation is rampant and President McClure has fostered the most pronounced and raw culture of bullying in recent ASU history. Watching Adams is merely a manifestation of that culture; the site is contributed to almost exclusively by current and former ASU employees and students. Either McClure doesn’t like what she sees in this unvarnished campus mirror, or she is more cynically using the issue of “cyber bullying” to compensate for her glaring inadequacies as a leader.  I am inclined to believe the latter, particularly as her authority continues to fall out of legitimacy across campus, in the popular and academic press, and with ASU’s accreditor.

Ask yourself: is this really the best use of a floundering university president’s time and public resources? Rather than supporting colleagues with expertise and fresh ideas, rather than raising much-needed funds to keep the university robust and fiscally viable, rather than spearheading the immediate demands of re-accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, rather than fostering vital community partnerships to serve its university mission as a Hispanic Serving Institution, President McClure is composing words on the Internet… to complain about words on the Internet.

President McClure should be able to say “I support free speech.” Full stop. Instead, she uses the term to shoehorn her authoritarian impulses to restrict, control, and impose silence upon speakers; no leader of an academic institution should be functioning as the thought police or arbiter of what expression can and cannot be allowed. So to claim that “stronger laws are needed to protect victims of Internet mobs and cyber bullying” is a truly repugnant sentiment for a university president. It is also anathema to higher education and a culture conducive to a free exchange of ideas.

While McClure claims that “cyber bullies, hiding behind freedom of speech, have in essence taken away the rights of others to speak freely by intimidating them into silence,” she seems to forget just how widely these matters are being discussed. Not only are people free to speak out against Watching Adams, countless people have – none louder than Beverlee J(ust-Say-Anything) McClure. And when critics of Watching Adams do speak, we publish their criticism – every time and without delay. Despite being actually bullied by armed officers from ASU PD entering Danny Ledonne’s home over fabricated allegations by McClure, and after any number of slanderous false statements made about him, he continues to publish them all and respond accordingly.

Because the solution to bad speech is more speech. And that is the first lesson that President McClure seems to have missed while maintaining her image as a figure of absolute authority.  Her recent statements only reinforce the foregone conclusion that President McClure must be replaced by competent leadership as soon as possible for Adams State University to repair and reorganize itself.