College has the right to change its name I am...


February 17, 2002

College has the right to change its name

I am astonished at the bad press and mean letters directed at Western Maryland College over the name change. I came to the College to teach in 1965 and have spent virtually all of my teaching career there. The College and Westminster have been my home for a very long time. Over the years, I've made many friends in the community and know that they respect the College and have hearkened to its fund-raising endeavors. And over the years I have taught hundreds of students - now alumni - and remember most of them and continue to love and respect them. I have a hard time believing that such well-meaning friends and alumni would agree with all the emotional, sometimes mean, comments I've read and heard about the name change, or withdraw their support from the College, financial and otherwise. So I'm not talking about them.

When I first came to Westminster, I was abashed to discover how the only time the College made the news was when somebody had something bad to say. Though a lot of that has changed now, thank goodness, I'm sorry to see that some people are still happy to jump on the College whenever they get a chance. The name change just gives them an excuse to beat up on the College some more.

The decision to change the name was not arrived at in haste. Far be it from the College to do anything hastily, much to some people's regret. We never jumped on a bandwagon. Colleges have been changing their names for decades, including at least three that I've been associated with. The changes haven't been painful, for goodness sake. Frankly, I think it took us an excessively long time to commit to changing the unfortunate name that our founders gave us.

A number of the people at the College are highly involved in community affairs, without compensation, and the College also has a considerable economic impact on the community, by way of providing jobs for people who in turn spend money in the community. In exchange for these facets of support, the College has no desire to tell people in the community how to run their businesses or do their work. Turn about should be fair play. Similarly, at least when I was active there, the College gave financial support to 70-some-odd percent of its students, and no students - even if they paid their bills without financial aid - no students paid the actual cost of their education, thanks to the generosity of others. And the College has always supported its students in many intangible ways as well. Now in exchange for this support, the College has no intention of telling them how to run their lives. Turn about should be fair play.

Though the percentage of our alumni that supports the College financially is embarrassing small in comparison with that of our sister Colleges, I truly believe that those who have always loved and supported the College - financially and otherwise - will continue to do so, after all is said and done, and that those who grumble will ultimately see the wisdom of the change and get behind this gem of a College. The same goes for the community and its leaders.

My advice: Back off and let those charged with running the College do their work. The College lets you do your work.

Del Palmer


The writer is a professor emeritus of English at Western Maryland College

Town, county officials are failing Mount Airy

I attended the Feb. 4 Town Council meeting to voice my concerns regarding overcrowded schools, overextended emergency services personnel and equipment and the inadequate water supply for greater Mt. Airy. After hearing my concerns, Council President Hobbs response was to ask where I live. It wasn't until after the meeting when Mr. Hobbs joined a group of citizens that the reason for his response became clear. We have very different views as to the validity of my concerns and shared them during discussion. I won't detail how disrespectful he was to all the citizens and myself during and after the meeting. You must experience this for yourself. It's mind-boggling. However, he closed our discussion by telling me that he's not going to discuss it with me any further because "you're not worth it." And do you know what? For all intent and purposes, he's right! I live in Mt. Airy, just outside the town limits. Every decision that the Mayor and Town Council make directly affects my family. Yet, I have no right to vote any of them out of office. So, why should they pay attention to me? My issues are legitimate and also concern town residents who Mr. Hobbs may consider worth his time.

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