In the past several years, Southern Illinois University has been a muckraker's dream. One scandal after another involving: speech zones, religious freedom, plagiarism, sexual harassment, and more.
When SIU fights a case, it generally loses (witness the 7th Circuit Court decision on religious freedom or the DOJ consent decree on racial nondiscrimination).
In other cases, SIU surrenders to avoid further embarassment or legal prosecution. With such a track record, there is a lot to learn in crisis management. Alas, the university lurches from one faux-pas after another like a computer program looping from one error message to another. Call it the long, slow "Blue Screen of Death."
The latest surrender involves General Ulysses S. Grant, the warrior-turned-president who pummeled the Confederacy and later sent the U.S. Army to quell the Ku Klux Klan. Today, SIU surrendered the General's papers to an academic institution in the heart of Dixie, Mississippi State University.
In its own small way, SIU has relinquished a historical remnant of that Union victory over secession and slavery. Transferred from the "free soil" of Illinois, Ulysses S. Grant will rest in Mississippi, now free in part because of his actions. Mississippi's gain is SIU's loss.
Rest in peace, General.
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