Recent Updates

Additional Updates via Alumni for the Wofford Way

Below you will find the latest updates to this ongoing discussion:

Update from Richard L Myers surrounding the use of Charles Jones father’s name in the opposal of JEDI recommendations:

Dear Wofford Trustees,

    As you meet this week to discuss and vote on the JEDI recommendations and the controversies surrounding them you may be made aware of an email from Charles Jones, the son of Dr. Lewis Jones, in which he questions my and the Alumni for The Wofford Way claim to know what Dr. Jones “would or would not think about the challenges our world is facing today, how Wofford is currently responding.” He also states that his father “would not have approved of a misrepresentation of facts.”
   The email of July 30 from Charles and my response to him on August 1, 2021 are included below so that you will have a clear understanding that no one is claiming to know what Dr. Jones would have or would not have thought, nor have any so called facts been misrepresented. What I originally did was describe what Dr. Jones wrote about what he called the Wofford Way in 1989.  I actually described what Dr. Jones wrote to this Board in an email I sent  on January 19, 2021 and contrasted that to what Dr. Samhat has said about the Wofford Way. The article by Dr. Jones, from Wofford College: A Time to Remember, is included here for anyone to read.
This should clear up any confusion and allow one to decide for oneself as to what Dr. Jones described as the distinctive personality of Wofford — the “Wofford Way”.
Respectfully,
Richard L Myers MD
Class of 1969
Dear Charles,
     My name is Richard (Dickie) Myers. Thank you for your letter to the Alumni for the Wofford Way. I am part of those alumni. I attended Wofford from 1965-69 and majored in history. Your father was my department chairman, my advisor, and a mentor. He was a major influence in my life as was my father. The two of them were very similar in many respects. Both were fair-minded men of high intelligence and dry humor. At your father’s invitation I visited your home more than once during my time at Wofford always learning of his passion for trains and admiring his “toy” train world. I am sure if he had not been a professor of history he would have been an engineer or conductor riding trains across this great country.
   We are not using your father’s name and teachings as part of our case against some of the current JEDI recommendations nor are we asserting that we know what he would or would not think about the challenges our world is facing or how Wofford is currently responding. What we have done is taken his description of the “Wofford Way” outlined in the attached insert that he wrote in 1989 and was published in Wofford College: A Time To Remember and contrasted that to what Dr. Samhat said about the “Wofford Way” in a September 2020 Chapter on Sodexo’s President2President website: Embracing Campus Capital: Formulating a Vocabulary for Change.  Dr. Samhat demeaned the “Wofford Way” as simply being slow to change. Your father’s description was documented many years earlier and  was much more eloquent. It has been accepted by thousands of alumni as the true “Wofford Way”.
    In a letter I wrote to the Board of Trustees on January 19, 2021,  I summarized what your father said. This is what I wrote:
    Dr. Lewis Jones would disagree with Dr. Samhat’s conclusion of what the ‘Wofford Way” is.
In Wofford College: A time to Remember , published in 1989 as a pictorial review of Wofford, Dr. Jones, Emeritus Professor of history, wrote the introduction and described the “Wofford Way”.
     In this introduction Dr. Jones made some key points. He said tradition and commitment constitute Wofford. The real picture of the college is made of human attitudes and priorities.
He said commitment to its primary purpose and faithful adherence to its course has allowed Wofford to maintain its self-respect and have its own distinctive personality___ what is known as the “Wofford Way”
    He then describes what makes up the “Wofford Way”
–          “goofs and glitches”
–          The important tie between character and intellect, between religion and education
–          The commitment to scholarship and character
–          The imparting of wisdom
–          That the means is just as important as the end
–          Openness and harmony among faculty and staff despite vigorous debate
–          Loyalty and concern for the institution that runs as deep as one’s own academic discipline
–          Respect for its past and tradition
–          Unique loyalty of its alumni
–          All Ben Wofford’s children__ the graduates of Wofford who have had and have a positive effect on the quality of the world they have lived in or now live in___ this is what epitomizes the “Wofford Way”
    Dr. Jones believed the cement that holds Wofford together has been its dedication to the liberal arts education and he describes that as the development of well-rounded, broadly informed, independent thinking people who recognize human value and needs with no temptation to follow any other path or fad of the moment.
     The fad of the moment is the “woke” ideology of Critical Race Theory and its concepts of oppressor versus oppressed. This leads to the adoption of the entire justice, equity, diversity, inclusion themes we see being pushed across our country and at Wofford by elites who want power and control over what people think. We must continue our fight against this mentality.
    I don’t believe I have misrepresented any facts nor has the Alumni for The Wofford Way. All I have done is summarize his description of what he felt the “Wofford Way” is. The Alumni for the Wofford Way have accurately summarized the JEDI recommendations in their ad and on their website. If there are  FACTS that have been misrepresented  please point those specific FACTS out to me and the other alumni. However, I do believe your father would question and take his red pen out for some of the so called FACTS in the English Department Statement from the summer of 2020 about how evil and racist Wofford has been and is today.
There is much more I could address with you and I will be happy to talk to you if you desire. You can call me at 904-703-7338 any time.
    I know this about your father; he loved America, and the ideals she stands for despite the fact that these ideals have not always been applied in the way they should have. He truly believed in our republican form of government as the best form of government even with its flaws. I do not believe he would endorse the Marxist ideology of Critical Theory that exist today under camouflage euphemisms of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; especially with their new Orwellian definitions. I don’t think he would have bought into the revisionist, inaccurate history of the 1619 Project that posits America was founded as a racist nation.  I believe he would have viewed Critical Race Theory as a perversion of the civil-rights legacy because it promotes victimhood, hopelessness, and minimizes a person’s ability to shape his or her future. If anything your father was a practical man, and CRT is theoretical nonsense which does nothing to solve the real problems of unsafe neighborhoods, failing primary and secondary schools, poverty, or rising crime and homicide rates that all adversely affect minorities. America and Wofford need real solutions to cultural racism and injustices not theoretical explanations that are not grounded in fundamental truth nor have any practical usefulness.
 With Great Respect for Your Father,
Richard (Dickie) Myers, MD Class of 1969

Independent Wofford group joins prestigious Alumni Free Speech Alliance

1/27/2022

Alumni for the Wofford Way, Inc. (AWW), an independent Wofford College organization unaffiliated with the college’s officially sanctioned alumni organization, has joined the Alumni Free Speech Alliance.  The Alliance is a national organization that includes similar groups from Cornell, Davidson, Lafayette, MIT, Princeton, the University of Virginia, Washington & Lee, VMI, and Yale. It is dedicated to preserving academic freedom and viewpoint diversity on the members’ college and university campuses.

Alliance members are mostly alumni, but the organization also includes faculty members, students, parents, and others.  Members share ideas, information, and operational advice on how best to promote free speech among faculty, students and alumni.  Alumni for the Wofford Way’s representatives in the Alliance are AWW President Hunter Quick (Class of ’71) of Charlotte, N.C.; and Vice President Mike Benston (Class of ’68) of Dallas, Texas.

“Wofford College has a long history of educating its students to become well-rounded, broadly informed, independent, and critically thinking individuals who recognize all human values while rejecting shortsighted and misguided ideologies,” Quick said.  “Wofford College has a long-standing commitment to scholarship, academic discipline, respect for all people and established faiths, vigorous debate and the open expression of all ideas, regardless how popular — attributes that are essential for an exceptional liberal arts education. We are dedicated to safeguarding our distinguished college’s untarnished reputation.”

AWW is a coalition of almost 4,000 loyal followers dedicated to upholding traditional core values of the college, founded in 1854 by Spartanburg Methodist minister and businessman the Rev. Benjamin Wofford.  The school was South Carolina’s first private, liberal arts college to integrate its student body more than a half-century ago and is considered one of the most free-thinking colleges in the South.  However, AWW opposes many of the proposals that have been included in an agenda known as JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion), which has been created, identified, and advocated by Wofford College President Nayef H. Samhat, his cabinet, and a growing number of faculty members.

“We are convinced that many of their JEDI efforts are unsound, unnecessary and counterproductive,” Quick said, and “students, professors, alumni and others should not be afraid to openly and honestly express how they feel about these issues without fear of reprisals.”

Response of the use of my father’s name to oppose JEDI recommendations sent in from Charles Jones:

Dear “Alumni for the Wofford Way”

    I was recently made aware of your use of my father’s name and teachings as part of your case against the current “JEDI” recommendations under consideration at Wofford.  While I very much appreciate the impact my father, Dr. Lewis P. Jones, had on you in your years at Wofford and beyond, and also appreciate the respectful tone of your assertions in regards to him, I believe that you are way off base in asserting that you know what he would or would not think  the challenges our world is facing today, and how Wofford is currently responding.  Let me be clear, I speak for myself, and only myself with this email.  Secondly, my interest in writing this is in clarifying what I believe to be my father’s legacy in the Wofford community, which meant so much to him.  Most of the folks that I have copied on this email never knew him, and may not have known of him prior to your letter, so I hope that they will take the time to read this. Final caveat: I am not a Wofford Alum myself (Randolph-Macon, ’90), but hopefully that fact does not invalidate my opinions too much.
    My dad was born in 1916 in Laurens, S.C., 51 years after the end of the Civil War, and no doubt knew former slaves and descendants thereof, as well as veterans of that war.  People of color (a phrase that would have been foreign to him) were afforded nothing close to the equal rights promised by the founding fathers, and women did not yet have the right to vote.
     He graduated from Wofford in the mid-1930’s, as part of an all-white, all male class.  The glorification of the Civil War in Southern mythology was in full swing at this time, the Confederate flag flew over many public buildings, and the KKK was a part of daily life in the South.
    My father went on to serve as a Naval Officer in WWII at a time where there were no black officers in any service, and our nation was seizing the property and imprisoning anyone of Japanese descent.
     All of us are, to an extent, a product of our time and our place, and my father was no exception. He no doubt had unconscious biases that impacted his view of our world and the people in it.  Some of his vernacular would not have been acceptable in today’s world, and might be offensive to some in the year 2021.  I’m sure he would be puzzled by pronouns in email signatures.  “Woke” he was not.
     Having said that, my father also rose above his time and his place.  He treated everyone, regardless of race, gender, or class with equal dignity and respect.  I remember riding around with him for many years on Christmas Eve to drop off gifts at the homes of his fellow Wofford professors, and at the homes of some of the black custodial staff, whom he considered friends.  At that time (1970’s and ’80s), I believe the vast majority of black employees on campus were the service staff.
     My father never uttered a hateful word, always listened to all opinions with an open mind, regardless of source, and was always respectful of women.  Through the years he supported integration, the failed Equal Rights Amendment, and healthcare as a right, not a privilege, decades before it was considered a mainstream idea.  Also if anyone ever began spewing any faux-historical nonsense glorifying the “lost cause”, he was quick to correct them.
     My father retired in 1987, began to experience cognitive decline in the late ’90s, and died in 2007.  He never witnessed any of the numerous cell phone videos of police officers beating or choking black people to death.  He likely believed, incorrectly, like so many of us did until a few years ago, that such incidents were exceedingly rare.
    He missed the so-called “me too movement” which exposed the abuse of power by powerful men towards women as something extraordinarily common in our world today.
    Some of these moments have made me and so many others like me reflect on our own privilege and past experiences.  A lot of us do dumb things as adolescents and college kids… partyting too hard, experimenting with things our parents would not have approved of, driving recklessly etc.  I know I did, and was even caught a few times.  When I was caught the police always gave me a pass and the benefit of the doubt as an educated white kid, just being a kid. When I think on those days and imagine myself doing the same things as a person of color, I wonder what the outcome would have been.  I think anyone who is being honest with themselves would know that it would have been very, very different.
    Therein lies the difference.  My father did not live through the time we are in now, and did not have a chance to evolve with these times.  Would he have approved of every detail of every JEDI recommendation?  I don’t know, and frankly don’t know if that is even a relevant or important question. I certainly believe that he would have supported the broad intent to make Wofford a more welcoming and inclusive place for people of all backgrounds.
     One thing I can say, with certainty, is that my dad, Dr. Lewis P. Jones, would not have approved of a misrepresentation of facts.  As the Chair of the History Department and Kenan Professor of History, he was a stickler for accuracy.  When my sister shared your letter with me, I was not aware of the JEDI initiative, so I took the time to read it and compare it against what you say that it is. Your letter is full of misrepresentations and political buzzwords.  While my Dad would approve of your right to hold your opinion and argue it passionately, the red pen would come out when grading that particular paper.
Thank you for your time,
 Charles P. Jones”

Risk Assesment Response sent in below from Michael Benston:

“A Risk Assessment

 My assessment is only focused on one issue: Is the Critical Race Theory Ideology Being Introduced Into The Wofford Community?   It is not my intent to discuss the JEDI Recommendations to The Board of Trustees. I understand others have addressed these in another forum.

 Some of you will find the tone of my assessment factually blunt and unambiguous, in contrast to that received from the opposing viewpoint. I have practiced for forty years as a financial auditor interacting with client Boards of Directors and as an expert witness in civil litigation. As the parable goes: Someone has to tell The Emperor he has no clothes.

 Attached is a complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The Plaintiff, a teacher, is suing the local School Board alleging that her Civil Rights were violated, and she was discriminated against for refusing to willingly participate in Critical Race Theory (CRT) training and indoctrination as a teacher, and then subsequently refused to indoctrinate students in this ideology.

 This complaint is brought to your attention because the litigation represents an Excellent Primer on what CRT is, how it is taught, including some of the exercises and drills that are used in indoctrinating teachers and students. Reading this complaint will introduce you to: Affinity Groups, White Fragility, Privilege Walks (2 steps forward, 1 step back), White Privilege, etc.

 The complaint is validated by a Letter of Finding from the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) (also attached) wherein a finding was made that the Plaintiff’s Civil Rights were in fact violated in a number of the plaintiff’s assertions. As set forth in the complaint, the Letter of Finding was mysteriously “suspended” shortly after Biden took office.

 It should be pointed out that the term CRT is only used once in the complaint ( para. 4). In Wofford’s rhetoric CRT has been “reimagined” and an acronym of “JEDI” (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) is used. These terms are the four pillars of the CRT Ideology. The terms are consistent with the rhetoric of President Samhat and the English Department. An excerpt from President Samhat’s 2020 Vision Statement demonstrates the direct correlation with the language in the complaint:

 “Immediate (Summer and Fall 2020) actions. We will (Highlighting added):

  *   Provide anti-racism and anti-bias training for the campus community.
  *   Review Campus Safety procedures and commit to police-oriented anti-bias and anti-racism education.
  *   Create a new student marketing committee and schedule unconscious bias training for the student committee and staff in the college’s Office of Marketing and Communications.
  *   Incorporate anti-racism and anti-bias education into the FYI curriculum.
  *   Relocate the Back of the College memorial to a more visible location.
  *   Create a new Black Alumni website to support the group’s history and tradition of excellence. Follow this with a new website to feature women’s history.
  *   Recommit to eliminating implicit bias through the college’s Search Advocate Program.
  *   Evaluate and develop new strategies for the recruitment of underrepresented students.
  *   Renew efforts to increase the number of NPHC organizations on campus.
  *   Engage academic departments in consideration of diversity in their existing perspectives in curricula going forward.
  *   Support with internal funding the AAC&U Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation program.
  *   Sponsor a symposium that considers Wofford College and race relations.
  *   Engage a cohort of faculty in a yearlong workshop on inclusive pedagogy led by Teach.Equity.Now.
  *   Review the Student Handbook and disciplinary processes for the purpose of finding and removing biased policies or practices.”

 Consequently, as the above and similar litigation makes their way through the courts, Wofford College, as well as other institutions, could be exposed to adverse litigation, depletion of financial resources and negative publicity. Federal and State Civil Rights Laws are colorblind. As the litigation above indicates, “Systemic” Discrimination is a two-way street. Wofford College’s exposure to this type of risk should be evaluated in your upcoming meeting. Unlike a School Board, in a College environment, this risk could extend to the student level.

 In summary, based on the above, any alleged assertion that Critical Race Theory Ideology is NOT being introduced into the Wofford Community, is false and is misleading to The Board of Trustees.

 Respectfully,

 C. Michael Benston (’68)” 

In an obvious response to Alumni for the Wofford Way’s ongoing information updates, the following was posted by President Samhat this week to Wofford College students, faculty, employees and, perhaps, the Board of Trustees:

“Over the past year, the Wofford College community has taken a close look at justice, equity, diversity and inclusion through the lens of our past, present and future. Like other private colleges founded in the pre-Civil War South, Wofford has a complicated history with both shining moments and times during which we did not live up to our mission and core values.

Frankly, it is all too easy to be thin skinned when our college receives criticism of any sort, but Wofford College did not get to be a nationally ranked liberal arts college by allowing defensiveness to cloud self-reflection, inquiry and progress.

In August, the college’s Board of Trustees will meet to carefully consider the 30 recommendations of the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion steering committee. I have worked with the board for the past eight years, and I could not be more proud of the direction in which they have led our college. Their leadership has yielded a successful $470 million comprehensive campaign, the renovation or construction of 11 campus facilities, record diversity and academic excellence in enrollment, and increased engagement in the Spartanburg community. I know they will thoughtfully review the JEDI report with the same keen focus on Wofford’s future. The college will share next steps following the retreat.

For now, I ask for your continued support, encouragement and faith in our process. At times it has not been easy, but I continue to be grateful for the individuals and groups who clearly have the college’s best interest at heart.

Misinformation continues to abound, but know this: Wofford College remains committed to its mission and core values, and the academic program, student experience and physical campus will only improve with our efforts.

With gratitude,

Nayef “

Get in Touch