We were privileged to visit Thomas Aquinas College again this month. I attended one philosophy class and two theology seminars, and left greatly impressed with the participating students. One of the children remarked that TAC feels more like “home” than home, and I can definitely see the point. Here are some photos taken by a family friend who accompanied us:
March 5, 2019
FORT JEFFERSON, CALIFORNIA – Despite the creation of a fully-staffed Office of Diversity, two new degree programs (LGBTQ Studies, and Multicultural Gender Perspectives), four years of expensive off-campus recruitment efforts, and an aggressive affirmative action program, Golden Hills University is risking more state penalties for its failure to meet state diversity requirements enacted by Governor Newsome in 2016.
“I don’t know what else we can do”, said Vanessa Poltran, one of the university’s several Junior Assistant Diversity Officers. “We’ve advertised. We’ve promoted. We’ve spent millions. We’ve hired outstanding faculty members. But we still don’t have a single student choosing to major in LGBTQ Studies, despite the fact we’ve made it one of the easiest degrees to obtain. Most of those classes are required for other majors anyway.”
So why don’t students just take another 12 or 15 units and earn a double major? Latisha Miller, the university’s Director of Multicultural Awareness, complains that “the students are just ignoring us and going about their business. No one seems to want these degrees on their record. It’s incredibly frustrating.”
Adalyn Reynolds, the campus Student Groups Coordinator, notes that even the creation of new student organizations, such as the “Women of Color Solidarity Union” and the “Alternative Sexualities Society” never really got off the ground, despite flashy new websites and the involvement of prominent faculty members.
University officials remark that several new informal, unapproved organizations seem to be thriving. “They are mostly of a religious nature, together with all of the exclusivity and intolerance that implies”, said Dr. Alexis Corina, who teaches classes on “Patriarchal Constructs” and “Religion, Tradition, and Social Control”. “Worst of all”, she explained, “they are cynically exploiting our ‘free speech zone’ for their own unauthorized agenda”.
Golden Hills University has also come under fire due to reports that its seven chess tables, located in the student quad, seem to be exclusively occupied by male students, which is potentially a violation of Title IX. According to an attorney representing several female students who speculate that they might, someday, like to use the chess tables as props for impromptu dramatic performances, “the tables are always occupied by male chess players who are oblivious to the existence of the other half of the human race”. University officials have pledged to remove the tables if the gross inequality persists.
Finally, the university’s switch in 2017 to gender-neutral restrooms, dressing rooms, and showering facilities has been undermined by students who, on their own initiative, seem to have designated certain facilities for men and others for women. This unwritten code among students has resulted in continued gender segregation at Golden Hills, much to the consternation of university officials and state authorities.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni recently awarded Thomas Aquinas College its highest ranking among 1,070 colleges and universities nationwide.
The ACTA evaluation focuses on the substance of schools’ mandatory courses and texts, or core curriculum. The association has identified seven essential areas of study for undergraduates — composition, literature, American history, foreign language, mathematics, science, and economics. The more of these areas of study required by a college or university, and the more substantive the curricula in these areas, the higher the school’s overall ACTA rating. Less than 2 percent of colleges nationwide received an “A,” and only 0.3 percent, including Thomas Aquinas College, achieved a perfect score.
Here’s a chart comparing Thomas Aquinas College with the nation’s historic Ivy League universities:
|Thomas Aquinas College||A||$22,850||69%|
|University of Pennsylvania||C||$42,098||96%|
Though I’ve been derailed by a summer cold, I’m looking forward to returning to a class I’m leading with my three older children this semester: Traditional Logic I. While going through this material and some supplementary sources, my thoughts have been drawn to many of the arguments I have made, heard, and read in recent times.
And something occurred to me: logic is a virtue, and the employment of fallacies is sinful. Logic as a discipline covers much more than fallacies – and indeed some preliminary work in logic is needed before one is competent to evaluate fallacies – but the study of fallacious reasoning is a good example of moral failure in argumentation. Let’s keep in mind that a thought process is only fallacious if it purports to do something it doesn’t do, to prove something it doesn’t prove. The sinfulness lies in the dishonesty. If I claim that a particular belief is traditional and therefore worthy of serious consideration, but do not claim that its being traditional is absolute proof that said belief is true, that may not be a fallacious argumentum ad antiquitatem, but an invitation to consider that said belief has served some human purpose with a measure of success and should not, therefore, be casually dismissed and replaced on a whim.
I have liberally employed all the fallacies myself over the years, and you probably won’t need to dig very far into the archives of this blog to find them. Fallacious reasoning is all too easy to justify. I’m willing to take the medicine. What is disheartening, however, is the fact that so few people seem to care enough about truth to learn how to reason well. Most people, it seems, are utterly without scruples when it comes to constructing an argument. Even more discouraging is the fact that few educated people, whose business it is to persuade, seem to know how to persuade properly without resorting to faulty reasoning. This has been my observation all across the political spectrum -left, right, and center.
I don’t know that formal or informal logic needs to be taught to everyone. A person who is intellectually honest and honorable will be logical enough. The temptation to bad reasoning is a temptation to sin against the truth in order to achieve a desired end (e.g., winning an argument) – consequentialism. Furthermore, although it’s not a danger for most, we shouldn’t cultivate the kind of hyper-rationalism that demands logical proofs for everything. In the first chapter of the text, readers are reminded that the claims of logic are really quite modest. Logic is a tool for deriving one truth from another truth, not for discovering truth in the first place. The truth of premises used in logical argumentation are discovered via observation, experience, philosophy, and religion. Nevertheless, for a nation with a heavily democratic ethos like the United States, the failure to teach logic and critical thinking to our youth is a salient contribution to the crisis that is upon us today.
As mentioned previously, my two oldest participated in a student-led choir while at the high school summer program of Thomas Aquinas College. Someone was thoughtful enough to make a couple of recordings for the families back home.
My two oldest progeny have returned from the two-week Summer Program at Thomas Aquinas College with incredible enthusiasm. One of the many highlights of their experience was the student-led choir in which they both participated, apparently a first for the program. The choir sang for the Ordinary Form Mass at 11:30am every morning. Here they are pictured in the loft of the magnificent Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity chapel.
Fisher More College is a promising new Catholic liberal arts college in Fort Worth, Texas. The Dean of the college is Dr. Taylor Marshall, whose esteemed blog Canterbury Tales is always a fascinating read. The college is unique in that, liturgically, it is committed to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and by extension to the timeless theology and rich spirituality of the Catholic tradition. Last month the college announced that it has found a suitable campus in a five-story, 76,000 sf, majestic former convent built in 1906. The Our Lady of Victory Building will house the college’s administrative offices, classrooms, library and chapel.