In a classic example of bolstering the bunker instead of looking in the mirror, FAU's Board of Trustees yesterday blasted those who criticized and publicized the school's recent high-profile public blunders.
Rather than question the wisdom of 1) branding the school's signature building with the name of a notorious human rights abuser and 2) caving in to Christian Right propaganda instead of defending academic freedom, the trustees, meeting on the school's Boca Raton campus, blamed their troubles on "well-funded national activists," "professional protestors," and social and news media, and called for more aggressive PR.
FAU President Mary Jane Saunders led off the comments during the "community engagement" portion of the meeting. For the umpteenth time she described the GEO Group's $6 million purchase of FAU stadium naming rights as "a relationship gift" and said she was "disappointed" the deal was canceled.
Of the outcry that followed news of the deal, Saunders said the school had not been "prepared to be dragged into a national dialogue" about private prisons and immigration, blaming the dispute on "well-funded national activists."
Saunders repeated previous talking points concerning her March 22 encounter on the school's Jupiter campus with students protesting the GEO deal, in which Saunders sideswiped a student with her 2010 silver Lexus.
In Saunders's version of events, students "with walkie-talkies" "chased her to her car," and "surrounded" her, leaving her "physically threatened" and "in fear for my safety." Student witnesses' statements and photo evidence are, at best, equivocal, and at worst, show Saunders recklessly fleeing the scene.
Saunders played the terrorism card, citing Monday's street bombings in Boston, and spoke of the "escalation of violence on campus" and the school's "responsibility to protect from the threat of violence."