The Collegian
Thursday, December 08, 2022

Jepson contradicts itself with Farrisee

First of all, nice scoop and reporting by The Collegian and reporter Markie Martin on the article entitled "Jepson leader involved in Tillman case."

When I first read the article, I was surprised but I went on with my day. The more I think about it, though, the more disappointed I am. Unfortunately, this is the second time during the last three years that Jepson's actions outside the classroom directly conflicted with what it teaches in the classroom.

For me, the most important and enjoyable courses in Jepson were those related to leadership ethics. Throughout my Jepson career, professors stressed the importance of ethical decision-making in the face of all obstacles and challenges.

As Dean Peart says in the article, leaders like Farrisee are put in challenging positions daily, but that does not justify unethical, dishonest decision-making. Making a bad decision is one thing. Intentional misleading and lying to those you lead is another.

I'm sure Maj. Gen. Farrisee has done a lot of great things during her career and does not deserve to be defined by one decision, but Jepson cannot justify honoring someone who acted the way she did in the Tillman case. Regardless of her other accomplishments, a case as serious as this cannot be treated simply as a blip on the radar screen of an otherwise honorable career.

The entire Jepson curriculum is focused on ethical decision-making and leadership. Leadership Ethics is the capstone course for all Jepson majors and minors. Yet, in one of the most important and public decisions of her career, Farrisee, our "leader-in-residence," acted unethically.

If Dean Peart knew about Farrisee's relationship to the Tillman cover-up, I don't know how she could possibly justify honoring her and using her as an example of an ethical leader worthy of admiration. If she didn't, then she sure did a bad job researching someone she was about to honor.

Like the Victoria Cobb fiasco from two years ago, this is not an issue of whether or not Farrisee was an effective leader. Certainly, to become a Major General, she had to lead effectively. This is about Jepson recognizing someone who does not fulfill the Jepson ideal.

Jepson students, alumni and faculty deserve better from their leaders. Making someone a "leader-in-residence" or granting them an alumni award for leadership inherently says, "This is a leader the Jepson community should admire."

There is nothing admirable about unethical leadership or Farrisee's actions in the Tillman case. I learned that in Jepson and I'm sure I'm not the only member of the Jepson community disappointed that my school chose to ignore its own ideals when choosing someone to represent it.

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