Alumni wrote letters to the university’s board, parents emailed the Archdiocese, and students planned a day of fasting and prayer for the campus on Ash Wednesday.
The controversy began months ago, when the provost and some professors had raised concerns when the president asked for a list of students unlikely to succeed in college several weeks into the school year; one said it was too early to separate those who would do well from those likely to drop out. Simon Newman, the president, told professors, “there will be some collateral damage.”
Newman also said, as first reported by the student newspaper the Mountain Echo and independently confirmed by The Washington Post, that “this is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”
The campus newspaper, The Mountain Echo, wrote in January that Newman had pushed a plan to dismiss 20 to 25 freshmen early in the academic year — before the deadline for submitting enrollment data to the government in late September. That could theoretically lead to an improvement in a school’s federal retention data, because those who might have left school without graduating would not ever have been counted in the first place.