Op-Ed: Tufts/Fletcher administration fell into Scaramucci’s trap: Students and faculty are smarter

The recent petition calling into question the rationale and propriety of Anthony Scaramucci’s appointment to The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Board of Advisors has generated public interest.

What the petition has not generated is a clear sense of duty and responsiveness from the administration, which seems torn between inaction in the hope the concerns raised will just go away and action that demonstrates either a blind spot as to the proper process to be followed or an effort to deflect and misdirect attention.

The administration’s response brings to mind Albert Einstein’s assessment of the costly price of indifference: “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

Thus we have an offer from the dean’s office an event on Nov. 16 that is billed as a primer on “the Board, its role, membership, and policies.” What this has to do with the issue at hand is anyone’s guess — it is tangential to the concerns that have been raised.

In addition, the administration has announced its intentions to invite Scaramucci to campus to discuss his “experiences in the private and public sectors, and lessons learned.” This invitation by Tufts and the Fletcher School, as the first statement/response they have put out since the student/faculty petition, the Tufts Daily op-ed and the Boston Globe article, is a way to give Scaramucci a platform to legitimize his unethical behavior.

These two events are the administration’s response to the petition. They are the textbook definition of Einstein’s assessment of doing nothing. They demonstrate a lack of understanding of their responsibilities.

So it is time to remind the administration and the board of their roles and responsibilities vis-a-vis students, faculty and staff.

The petition represents the efforts of a student to raise concerns about an individual’s appointment to the board. The petition raises a valid question to the administration and the board: is Scaramucci, as a member of the Fletcher School’s Board of Advisors, a person that best represents the values and mission for which our school stands: “To be an innovative university of creative scholars across a broad range of schools who have a profound impact on one another and the world.” It has been delivered to the administration and board.

The next step is for the administration and the board to respond to this petition. In responding, they must ask themselves if Scaramucci’s behavior is indeed what they want representing our school. If the answer is “no,” then they should exercise their authority to remove him, and to send a message to students, faculty, staff and alumni that reaffirms the school’s mission and goals. If the answer is “yes,” then they should explain to students, faculty, staff and alumni why they condone his behavior and the justification for his continued service.

Further clouding the issue and the proper process to be followed are the actions of Scaramucci. He used the Boston Globe article to reach out to students on Twitter as bait to get what he wanted, which was a platform for legitimacy. He followed some students who would retweet the Boston Globe story in order to spark conversations, and through Twitter he finally asked the organizer of the petition to invite him to campus to speak.

So let us remind Scaramucci of process. Students have raised a concern about his serving on the board and being able to uphold the school’s ideals and represent it. These concerns, properly, are not addressed to him but must be addressed to the administration and the board. It is the responsibility of the board to either take up or to ignore these concerns. If they do take them up, then Scaramucci’s dialogue will need to be with the actors with the authority to decide his fate — and that is not students.

There is nothing wrong with inviting individuals and groups to speak on campus, and the administration or any student organization can certainly invite Scaramucci or anyone they please. The invitation to speak is not the issue. The issue is Scaramucci’s seat on the board and what will be the administration’s response to the petition. An invitation to speak to the campus has nothing to do with this response and is a separate item.

But as we know now, Scaramucci has shown his intentions while in the White House as well as in his public statements that he cares about gaining attention and nothing more, and we should not let this distract us from what the administration wishes to avoid having to take up and answer.

As students, faculty, alumni and staff at Tufts and Fletcher, the only way to stay true to our values and beliefs, the only way to counter the unethical narrative, the only way to preserve the Tufts and Fletcher reputation, is to send out a unified message to our administration, that we never asked for a meeting with Scaramucci, we will not be seduced by this clumsy attempt at misdirection and we will not attend this discussion.

Through the petition, we have expressed that we believe Scaramucci stands in the way of what we came to Tufts and Fletcher to accomplish, and what donors and future students want to accomplish.

Now we are waiting to hear what the administration and the board believe. Let’s not get distracted. Let’s help the administration see its duty and responsibility. What is important now is to continue to share and sign the petition, a movement our classmate Carter Banker so courageously started.

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