SGA’s Letter In Support Of Tomljanovich Is Comical

To The Editor:

I was surprised at the audacity of the Student Government Association’s Letter to The Editor in last week’s issue. In the letter, the SGA protests the denial of tenure to Assistant Professor of Economics Marc Ivan Tomljanovich, but in the same letter confesses that it “is not privy to the specifics of the review process.” I want to believe this was intended as a joke (as it would seem to justify the hearty laugh that escaped me as I read the letter), but the professional language and serious tone of the letter seem to suggest otherwise. These qualities, as any English major will tell you, are often employed by satirists (Mark Twain comes to mind) in order to amplify the absurdity of the subject. I applaud the SGA’s courage in publishing a satirical letter in the Maroon-News, and if I ever undertake to write such a letter myself, I will certainly be consulting the SGA’s generous model.It’s no wonder student groups – and the student publications that give voice to them – are rarely taken seriously by professors and administrators. The narrow-mindedness of the SGA’s letter is a painful confirmation of traits often attributed to young people; foremost among these is the inability to distinguish between passion and policy. I do not know Professor Tomljanovich. I’m sure he is a “tremendous asset to Colgate,” as the letter claims. But might the review board be interested in things other than “the friendships [Prof. Tomljanovich] has formed on the hill and in the surrounding Hamilton community?” Might there also be a limited number of professors to whom the board may grant tenure? And furthermore, do we really want tenured professors who are going to be distracted by their friends?After undermining its own objective, the SGA’s letter claims (in a moment of delicious irony), “We apparently cannot be trusted to evaluate our partners in intellectual pursuits.” This is the cue for administrators to nod their heads vigorously in agreement. The SGA can rest assured that its letter has perpetuated the image of the volatile student who is so captivated by the romance of protest that he forgets he has nothing to say. If the letter was indeed intended as a joke, I apologize, and would urge Admissions to consider distributing the SGA’s letter to prospective Colgate students as a demonstration of the student body’s fine sense of humor.

Greg Beyer ’06