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I was disheartened to read Rick Hall’s statement concerning the University’s relationship with John Schnatter. Not only do Mr. Schnatter’s statements fly in the face of the values that I experienced when I was a student at Ball State, but they also are just the latest in a pattern of unbecoming behavior that make Mr. Schnatter a poor representative for our University. Schnatter has been accused multiple times of sexual harassment in the workplace, most recently mere days ago when 37 current and former employees described the corporate culture as one littered with inappropriate comments, workplace spying and nepotism. It shocks me that, with these revelations, the University would still choose to associate with this man, following the revelation that he used a racial slur, a word so foul neither you nor I would place it into writing when describing it, only referring to it as ‘the n-word’.
It is neither my place nor is it necessary for me to explain how inappropriate his use of that word was; however, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you of a few pieces of information curiously absent from the words of defense made in justifying Ball State’s continued relationship with Mr. Schnatter. Mr. Hall went to great lengths to explain that he did not use the term disparagingly to reference another human being, and stated that he only used it in a quote. Consider the intellectual dishonesty required to defend someone for using a word in a quote, when you yourself do not use the word when quoting Mr. Schnatter.
Mr. Schnatter admits that he said the n-word (using the full slur) when comparing himself to Colonel Sanders, pointing out that he never used that term (ignoring the fact that he had just said it). He did so in a meeting that came about because of a series of racially insensitive statements Mr. Schnatter made that were hurting his business.
It’s worth noting that Mr. Schnatter, in 2018, used an example from someone who died in 1980 to defend his current bad behavior. It’s also worth noting that there’s no evidence that Mr. Sanders ever used the slur Mr. Schnatter used. So in addition to using a racial slur, Mr. Schnatter appears to have made a disingenuous argument in order to excuse his own poor behavior, in a meeting where he was supposed to be improving his communication on the subject of race.
I would think it would be below persons in the field of education to suggest that because Mr. Schnatter had never displayed racist tendencies or viewpoints with you as definitive evidence in a case on his behalf. Anyone who has taken a debate class knows the logical fallacies behind that statement, so certainly a lawyer working for a University must be acutely aware of the hollow and empty nature of such a statement.
Traditionally, there has been no separation between Ball State and the idea of Beneficence. The statue that bears this name is enshrined in our logo. This spirit was fundamental to my education at Ball State. But Beneficence is the quality or state of doing or producing good, and I cannot see how a continued relationship with Mr. Schnatter fulfills this goal. I am heartbroken that I can no longer take the pride that I once held for the University. I implore the Board of Trustees to reconsider this decision.
-William John O’Hargan, class of 2009