Thursday, July 19, 2007

An Appropriate Response at Roger Williams

Inside Higher Education reports that the Ralph R. Papitto School of Law at Roger Williams University will no longer be known by that name. As of this morning, however, the website had not been changed, and Mr. Papitto's name is still prominently displayed.

Mr. Papitto used the word "nigger" at a Roger Williams University board meeting in May, Inside Higher Education revealed, and when this became public knowledge, Mr. Papitto apologized and left the board, but the name of the law school was unchanged. A number of people at the University were outraged that the law school still bore Mr. Papitto's name, and by yesterday "student and faculty groups were organizing petition drives or resolutions to demand a change in the law school's name, and Rhode Island talk radio stations were devoting hours to discussion of the controversy." Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Papitto repeated his apology and announced that he had asked Roger Williams to remove his name from the law school. Roger Williams President Roy J. Nirschel announced last night that the board would go along with Mr. Papitto's request and that the name change "would take place in a 'timely and orderly fashion.'" I think that's the right decision, but why not change the name as soon as possible? If I were an administrator at Roger Williams University, I would want to be free of any association with this odious individual today.


Betsy McKenzie said...

Dear Marie,
I'd be willing to bet that the President at Roger Williams called Mr. Pappito and pressured him to announce publicly that he wished to remove his name from the building. While I agree -- and obviously many people at RW agreed -- I would guess that the relationship between a major donor and trustee was something that had to be severed carefully in order not to jitter other trustees or potential donors.

Is that cynical?

Marie S. Newman said...

Not cynical. Realistic.