Letters to the Editor

FATHER FIGURE

To the Editor:
Regarding "The Sacred and the Profane" (RFT, June 9), authored by D.J. Wilson:

Just one question: How much is the airfare to the planet Kim Tucci lives on?
Rita T. DeFilio

To the Editor:
I was somewhat horrified by D.J. Wilson's article about the corporate, "schools for sale," administrative thinking that is going on down at SLU. But I'm even more horrified by Kim Tucci's quote: "The people you're going to get that (criticism of the administration) from are the literati. You get tenured professors to speak against him. I don't believe in tenure. It's the biggest joke in the whole world ... You have to be a team player, and that's it." I was so sorry to read this quote since I am a 16-year product/teacher/team player of Jesuit education. I will always believe in the true, centuries-tested (not corporate-missioned) statement of Jesuit ideals; I was also, as a lifelong St. Louisan, a true believer in the Pasta House Italian salad; however, as a result of Mr. Tucci's quote, my family and I will never enter a Pasta House establishment ever again. The Jesuits of 20 years ago literally formed my life (especially since I was the son of an essentially single mother); they taught me the value that all things under God's kingdom were worthy of study; they taught me the values of dissent from the cultural norms of the day. This tradition is why I have shaped my life as it is. To be attacked as a tenured literati who dares disagree with SLU's most recent (June 11, 1999) corporate mission is an insult to the tradition of Jesuit education I grew up with.

Mr. Tucci says, "It's nice to disagree, if you do it the right way." I don't know if I can, in the Jesuit tradition that I was trained by, support this new position. But we also know, according to Time's recent article, that "Schools Are for Sale." Given the long history of private education in St. Louis, it's a shame to know that the administrative boards that run such institutions are thinking in such overwhelmingly corporate and such underwhelmingly educational ways about St. Louis' primary institutions of Jesuit education.

Mark Cummings

To the Editor:
In 1994, as a prospective freshman, I was excited about my decision to matriculate to St. Louis University. I believed I was attending a university that aspired to be something more -- that had an identity that demanded it be something more. I hoped I would be something more than another number in a diploma mill, an individual in a community governed by ideals that necessitated respect.

Nonetheless, during my SLU experience I realized this community was not bound by a sense of SLU's religiously inspired identity but by a state of alienation -- brought about by the administration's consistent disregard for the university's stated ideals. This, coupled with the realization that we, the students, were not important individuals but were big fat cows with dollar signs instead of spots. And over the loudspeaker of this exploitative animal farm, we were being told about the greater glory of God. It was not just the students who had been duped; the faculty and staff even started to feel as though the administration saw SLU's purported identity as more of a marketing tool than anything else. "But the alumni love the place and Biondi," we were told. One could respond, "But they no longer deal with the university as a regular member of the community but as visitors. They don't deal with the university in the present but relive the university of the past -- only with a fancier veneer." But honestly, what isn't to like from that perspective? Now the U. is rich and fancy, and one knows that its idealistic identity is the same as that of the past -- it even says so in the alumni magazine. Well, the identity, the nobility, is gone. Even Biondi's supporters implicitly recognize this fact. They credit him with being a great businessman and getting things done. They say he is being questioned on issues of style. I think they might as well say that the ends justify the means, even if those means include sacrificing the fundamental values of which SLU is supposedly a paragon. Values that would make SLU a worthy object of loyalty, of admiration, and of the God it seeks to glorify.

While I do not feel that my SLU experience was reflective of its purported values, I know that SLU used to be about its values. I hope it can be that way in the future. Biondi has returned SLU to strong economic viability. However, it is time for someone to restore SLU's nobility. To make sure that its religious identity is not a corporate gimmick that uses God as an advertisement but as a force of guidance.

Greg Vinson

To the Editor:
Thank you for unveiling the reality of St. Louis University. There is no denying the success in Father Biondi's beautification of the campus, but at some point he revered the beauty of the statues more than the qualities of the individuals who are a part of this community. Throughout many years at SLU, wearing many different hats, I remained horrified as a Catholic by Biondi's childish, unprofessional and mainly un-Christian ways. This is most recently evidenced by the stripping from campus of all (copies of) The Riverfront Times shortly after their arrival featuring his article. Biondi, students make better bed partners than your high-pollutant allies. We're SLU's future alums. Kim Tucci, what have you done for the students lately?

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