The quality and value of ISU

Like Robert Boeke (Tribune, Jan. 7), over the past year or so I too have watched and listened to the dialogue about the ISU Foundation, and I have puzzled long and hard over the bad-faith argument about “protecting the anonymity of the donors.”
Which donors, I have wondered, would arouse so much anxiety?  All I can imagine is that large-profit vendors might be paying kick-backs that get routed through the ISU Foundation.  Understand, please, that this is pure speculation, but I welcome some more plausible explanation for the exaggerated display of concern for maintaining donor confidentiality in the face of repeated requests for foundation expenditures.

Tom Mitchell might plausibly say that he does not BELIEVE the assurances of critics that breaching donor confidentiality is neither desired nor intended, but for him to say that critics “have made no secret of the fact that they intend to attack the Foundation’s commitment to donor confidentiality in court, in the Iowa Legislature, or both” is simple balderdash and nitwittery.  John Lawson, likewise, has stated that critics are “working hard to diminish the public’s confidence at the very time when Iowa State is looking to the Foundation to raise increased support during the state budget crisis.”

It’s just awful how those darn critics and detractors keep causing all these problems.

Bill Kunerth remarked just yesterday that it perhaps hasn't occurred to those, like Boeke, Mitchell, and Lawson, who are concerned about the credibility of the foundation that many ordinary Iowans, in addition to the critics, believe that keeping the records secret is more harmful to their credibility than is opening them up.

On the other hand, perhaps Boeke is really making the implicit argument that even if there has been a little financial hanky-panky going on, it is far outweighed by the good done to enhance the “quality and value” of ISU.

Actually, I find that more palatable than the implicit argument that “those who would be detractors” ought to give up their evil ways and join hands with those moving in a positive direction with a good hearty chorus of Kumbayah.
There’s something perverse, if not outright wicked in suggesting that the real problem lies with those who ask for honesty, accountability, and logical coherence from those highly paid public servants entrusted with protecting the common weal.

I applaud Boeke’s call for moving forward in a positive direction, and I propose three essential first steps in making that happen:

“Ad hominem” is not correctly translated as “against the person”; it is “TO the person.”  “Ad hominem” refers to shifting the argument to the person making claims rather than directing your refutation at the claims themselves. Boeke's idealized notion about “the quality and value of Iowa State University” cannot be sustained while grounded in disingenuous proclamations of piety and misdirected attacks--however politely stated--on critics.

Virginia Allen
815 Seventh St.
Ames, IA 50010