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Editorial: Tough love for MUW




If there were any doubts about Allegra Brigham''s vision or desire to lead Mississippi University for Women from the doldrums in which the school has been mired, they disappeared Thursday afternoon. 


Speaking to the local chapter of the alumni association disenfranchised by her predecessor, Brigham was eloquent, direct and at times funny. On top of that, she showed courage and humility, traits too seldom exhibited by past leaders of the school and all too rare in public life. And she didn''t mince words. 


"The damage done over the past few years during the previous administration was more devastating than we can comprehend," Brigham told the gathering of alumni, administrators and townspeople. "It damaged the credibility and reputation of the school. Many in this room didn''t give when they could. At a time we needed to elevate our support, it was diminishing." 


We must let go of the past and work toward reconciliation, she told the group. 


Brigham, in her first month as interim president of her alma mater, said she''s going to keep a bell handy to ring when someone brings up the past. 


"I cannot change what happened; you cannot change what happened. It is the past," she said. 


In a move breathtaking for its audacity, Brigham apologized for the actions of the previous administration. 


"I''d like to publicly apologize to all stockholders on behalf of MUW for what has occurred," she said to the crowded room. 


Brigham apologized directly to Lillian Wade, president of the disenfranchised alumni association, and Mitzi Green, president of the "official" alumni association. 


If The W is to flourish, those two organizations must find a way to bury past differences and come together. 


"There are leaders in this town who say this cat fight needs to end," Brigham said. "It''s very uncomfortable to be the only woman in a board meeting and hear that." 


Brigham cited conversations she had with four students, all of whom told her their most important concern was reunification of the alumni. 


"We can''t get their friends to come here," she said they told her. 


The interim president acknowledged that everyone in the room was united by their love for the university. Noting an expected 25 percent decline in funding between 2009 and 2012, she urged those in attendance "to love like an action verb, not as a noun." 


"I don''t want us to just survive, I want to thrive," Brigham said. "We must rock." 


We, too, want The W to rock. For more than 125 years, the school has been the bedrock of this community. Never has it been more vital to the economic health and quality of life of Lowndes County.  


With Brigham, The W has an opportunity to begin reclaiming -- if not surpassing -- its past glories. For that to happen, the stakeholders -- faculty, staff, students, alumni, townspeople and public officials -- must recognize this and join with this determined woman in doing just that. 




Editor''s note: This editorial was published in July 23, 2010 print edition of The Dispatch.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment kj commented at 7/29/2010 1:08:00 PM:

If I was the W, I might try treating "apology" like it was an action verb instead of a noun and reaffiliate the original alumnae organization with their own by-laws (by-laws that resemble IHL guidelines instead of the punitive set imposed by Limbert). An apology is just an acknowledgement that one party has wronged another. In and of itself, it typically doesn't right that wrong.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 7/30/2010 8:30:00 AM:

No dear, the W does not apologize, even when clearly in the wrong. The W does have a bag full of excuses, if you'd like to see one.

It's sorta like this newspaper. It wants everyone to think "all is well" on campus, but it isn't. It insists on telling everyone how sugar sweet it is all the while it is twisting the knife in your back.

I had commented, as is my right under our Bill of Rights, and since the newspaper didn't see eye to eye with my comment, they deleted it. No great surprise there as most who have lived here for more than a few days knows the communist tendencies of this "newspaper."

I spent 4 years at this college, and gave them everything I had to give. I worked for nothing, paid expenses they benefited from out of my pocket, and in the end, they handed me a worthless piece of paper and shoved me out the door. No "networking" like the "long blue line" girls, no job on campus, just "we got your money, have a nice life" wham bam thank you ma'am goodbye.

Even though there were some great instructors in front of me during those 4 years, and I do miss them, you could clearly feel the hate and discontent felt toward a male student by some of the administration. They can prop up all the male students and tell whatever lies they want to tell about that, but I know what I went through while there, and for that reason, I DO NOT recommend this college to anyone, nor will I ever send them a dime.


Article Comment doj commented at 7/30/2010 9:15:00 AM:

coltrain, I am not a graduate of the W. The college I graduated from was just the opposite, 2,600 men and 200 women, tho now it is considerably larger. Imagine how two women in a class of sixty men felt. They were there for the education. Somehow, I get the impression that you feel that the W owes you something other than the education that you apparently received. You could have changed schools. There are three within easy driving distance. You attended a predominately women's college of your own volution, and you now want to complain. I think you are letting your male ego overcome your objectiveness.


Article Comment kj commented at 7/30/2010 10:32:00 AM:

The Bill of Rights restricts the power of government. It doesn't impose a duty on the local paper to provide a forum for defamatory comments.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 7/30/2010 7:22:00 PM:

Doj, I don't have a male ego. What I do have is a clear memory of how I was treated at the W. I can't go into detail without revealing who I am, but you can believe me or don't, it doesn't matter really. I know what happened, I know the things that were done to me and why they were done, and that is that.

After graduation, I approached my college, where I graduated with honors, and asked for a job. It didn't matter what job at that point. I wasn't even interviewed. They had counted on me for years to perform for them, and I did, but when it came time for them to "be there" they ran.

As for the "other schools" I wasn't aware of how badly I was being used until the last semester. I was always told how great this was going to be, how it would open doors, blah blah blah. It was all lies.

And now they have the gall to send me letters begging for money.

When pigs fly.


Article Comment doj commented at 7/30/2010 8:10:00 PM:

What I'm surprised at is your naivety of the academic world. A BS will get you no where, other than some menial contract instructors job or research assistant, and those few are mostly filled by graduate students working on higher degrees. Without an advanced degree, minimum MS, you stand the chance of the proverbial snowball of attaining employment in higher institutions regardless of what your grade average was. I know because I too applied at several colleges for a position while I was attending graduate school, the W included, to no avail. Once I had my MS all sorts of opportunities opened up, but by then I was deeply entrenched in the corporate world and never looked back. Unlike you, I took it as a learning experience, and didn't harbor resentments of what might of been.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 7/31/2010 5:20:00 AM:

You are assuming I was looking for a teaching position. And pardon me for having been a high school dropout who had the nerve to go back to college without the benefit of your vast academic knowledge. I know I should have stayed in "my place" but I had to correct a mistake. It is arrogant SOB's like yourself that ruin the W. Your "holier than thou" attitude is all over that school, and in the end, is what will kill it.

Oh, I took it as a learning experience too. I learned to never have anything to do with a Mississippi college. I learned I lived in a state that was so bent on kissing the W's backside it would allow the school to behave in any fashion it wanted just as long as it would pat Columbus on the head and kiss it good night (the alumni mess). And I learned that no matter what the W's problems were, blame the student for your shortcomings. It's never the W, is it? It's always the Alumni, or the student, or the weather, or someone else, but never the W.

Odd don't you think, oh Grand MS?


Article Comment doj commented at 7/31/2010 11:22:00 AM:

coltrain, I assumed nothing. I merely compared my experience with academia to yours. I find it ludicrous that you would assail me for continuing my education. If you are a dropout who later attained a higher degree, I applaud your fortitude. I hold no allegiance to MUW, nor do I have any animosity toward it. I am neither arrogant, nor do I hold a holier-than-thou attitude, and am certainly disappointed that you would resort to disparagement of my parentage to try to make your point. You really don't get it, do you? It's your attitude that you are entitled to preferential treatment because of some perceived wrong that is the crux of the thing, and the fact that you can't seem to let go of it and get on with your life. Your resentment must be an encumbrance to you in your daily life.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/1/2010 7:29:00 AM:

Oh not at all. It's not an encumbrance, it is a vow to expose that school for what it really is: a finishing school for snobs supported by the federal funds of minorities who will never be "accepted" there and by men who are deeply resented by The Grey Haired Mafia.

What I want people to know about was the inadequate equipment we had in th science labs, the two students trying to learn on one computer classes, the paying for parking stickers even though there were no parking places and you were parking mostly on city streets, the drug use among faculty, faculty members with known mental issues which were overlooked, you know, stuff they don't want to talk about in public. Oh, not to mention the asbestos that nearly everyone on campus is exposed to. And ya gotta love it when they flood out your car, especially after paying for a parking sticker that entitles you to a free interior car wash. And yeah, some of this has been addressed by the school, but I would be willing to bet they are still the same ole same ole.

And do you know about the social clubs and their hazing? Did you know one of the clubs requires its female members to beat themselves with a wooden paddle until they bruise?

And a teaching job is exactly what you were thinking. Maybe you should read your post again. Preferential treatment? According to the W, I'm not the right color or sex for this. You really are starting to sound like one of them too. They're big on trying to make it the fault of the person saying something about the W. Nice try.

No, it's not so much a resentment as it is a determination to finish what the W started. And over time, I will.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/1/2010 7:35:00 AM:

Almost forgot you KJ.

Don't you find it interesting that an industry, such as Journalism, would be the first to cry "Freedom of the Press" and then turn right back around and censor its readers comments?


Article Comment doj commented at 8/1/2010 11:14:00 PM:

Well coltrain, do you feel better now that you got all that off your chest? I didn't realize that you had been soooo mistreated. Maybe it's your pretentious attitude that makes you feel so ineffectual. I sense that had you gone to Harvard, you would still seethe over some preconceived concept that you were maltreated because of race or gender. Grow up! It's 2010, not 1960. That was another era. Your odium is becoming nauseous.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/2/2010 7:06:00 AM:

You're starting to smell like a W girl. As always, whenever someone points out anything negative about the W, the personal attacks begin. Pay no attention to the asbestos, forget about the drug use and the mental problems of a few staff members... just attack the messenger.

It won't save you.


Article Comment doj commented at 8/2/2010 10:41:00 AM:

coltrain, You emphasize nothing that is not prevalent on any university campus. Your diatribe against an inanimate entity is inane. As I previously stated, I have no allegence to the W, nor is its prolongation or demise my concern. My argument is with your proclivity for verbose proclaimations of which you have no perception.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/2/2010 12:08:00 PM:

Doj, put the Thesaurus away, you're not impressing anyone. So it being on "any campus" makes it ok? Another typical W girl excuse.

For someone who claim no connection to the W, and states they didn't go there, you sure do seem in a hurry to defend what you couldn't possibly know without having been there.

I've told you what is what. I can't help it if it doesn't fit your Birney Imes Roses for Everyone philosophy. I've told no lies against the W. I don't have to as they are providing all the ammo I need all by themselves. Why do you think their enrollment has been so bad? The only thing saving them is the location of the school, its female mission, and the myths spun by those in charge.

You mention hazing is common everywhere. It is also illegal and the school knows it happens and looks the other way.

I'll also tell you about a "society" I was invited to join. I got the notice, showed up, and paid the small fee for membership. They cashed the check and that was the last I ever heard from them. I was never made aware of meetings, gatherings, events, or anything else for the duration of my time at the W and they did have my email address as it was a school based email account. This is how this school treats men.

I'm sure you have an excuse for that one too, right?

It will all catch up to them in the end. You can run if you want, you'll just die tired.


Article Comment doj commented at 8/2/2010 1:19:00 PM:

coltrain, all I can say is RANT, RANT, RANT!!!!


Article Comment neil5150 commented at 8/2/2010 5:47:00 PM:

As a college graduate (not MUW), I can tell you this Roscoe: Nobody owes you anything. Nobody forced you into going to the "W" and nobody promised you a job when you left. It is dog-eat-dog in this country. I am proud that you went to college, and I can appreciate your feelings that you are some how entitled to some type of benefit because of it. Going to college is VERY EXPENSIVE, but that was your live with it.
With that in mind, I will say that going to college is one of the biggest scams that there is out there. Did I learn about a lot of stuff? Sure. Can I buy a cup off coffee these days because of it? Nope. The employment market is so bad these days and especially here in Mississippi. Hang in there, Roscoe! I know I am...unemployed with degree in hand.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/5/2010 6:27:00 AM:

Don't know why you people can't see this:

It's not a rant, it is true.

"Nobody forced you into going to the W", but they sure did lie to me once I was there. And that is the part I want people to know about the W. They are liars. And they will use you to their advantage and toss you aside, unless Daddy has lots of money they think he'll donate (then you become a favorite daughter), and move on to the next sucker. If you walk into a tattoo office and they tell you this will be the best tattoo you have ever had, it will look great, it will open doors for you, and you pay your money and end up with a kid holding a crayon against your arm you sir, can consider yourself ripped off. The W is a kid with a crayon. And their services offered to grads is the crayon.

Oh, don't be worrying yourself about me Neil. I went to another school, picked up another trade, made a bunch of money with it, and now I'm on to other things. I'm just fine, but good luck to yourself.

And have you noticed how quiet they are about what I am saying? Don't kid yourself into thinking they aren't reading what I'm saying. They have students reading newspapers, magazines, etc looking for articles that might be of interest to the W. They also monitor local papers and I am sure they look at this site for any mention of the W.


Article Comment neil5150 commented at 8/5/2010 1:56:00 PM:

I can appreciate what you are saying and your sentiment, Roscoe. I am sure you read the part about college being one of the biggest scams out there. The college scene is like any other business when it comes to getting their customers...the students. They will say and do just about anything to get you in the door. I would think that there would be greater efforts by universities to actually get their graduates placed in employment considering the huge investment being made by the people who keep the schools open...the students.
I am 46 and just went $25k in the hole to earn my bachelor degree in 2008. I am broke, nearly bankrupt, and the highest paying job I have had in the last year was a minimum wage part-time gig at Dunkin Donuts for a few months until my hours were cut so low that it was costing me more money to get back and forth from work than what I was earning. Even though I would like to put some of the blame and responsibility on my university...I still have to take ultimate responsibility for myself and my choices.
Are you hiring, Roscoe?


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/7/2010 10:54:00 PM:

No, but tell you what. Write me at [email protected] and I'll put you on to something. For those of you who think this will tell you who I am, you under estimate me.

And no, I'm not hiring. LOL


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/10/2010 9:48:00 AM:

Neil, I'm starting to think you're gassin' me.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/12/2010 5:54:00 AM:

Ok, it appears someone from the W is blowing smoke up peoples shorts. According to Forbes, the W isn't even listed in the top 400 schools. But yet other mags tell a different story. Hmmmm...does a Blue Haired Mafia work at that mag??

Hmmm?? How would Forbes overlook such a jewel as the W if it really is a jewel?



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