It has come to my attention that my alma mater, St John’s College, is in the news because its former president, Pano Kanelos, quit his post to start the University of Austin, an unaccredited school co-founded by Bari Weiss and her various loud yet silenced-identifying friends, which will forever appear beneath The University of Texas at Austin on Google.
Because I don’t think one should dwell on college for the rest of their life, I don’t. I have not used Facebook since 2011, but I have heard, against my will, that Kanelos has been a contentious figure in the college community since joining as president. It’s also possible that he left the liberal arts college in more financial turmoil than when he joined it, as if you needed more evidence that someone joining arms with the likes of Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan to found an educational institution with less legitimacy than the University of Phoenix is an intellectual grifter.
If you went to St. John’s, please do not contact me. I do not care. I’m still waiting for a refund to be honest. The only reason I am writing this blog is because my editor saw me tweet “Was St. John's College not white supremacist enough???” in response to the news and asked me to. The thought that I could make someone’s life better by convincing them not to attend St. John’s College is what made me say yes.
St John's is known as an offbeat school because of its minuscule student body that rarely exceeds 500 on either of the two campuses in Annapolis and Santa Fe, and its non-traditional educational ethos. Everybody takes the same classes and reads the same books based on the core selection of classics that are said to be responsible for Western civilization. The Great Books — take a look — are bolstered by math classes where you can spend up to an hour proving a proposition about the motion of the planets on a chalkboard and a requisite study of Ancient Greek among other scholarly things. Other schools teach these books and topics as well, but other schools also teach stuff like Adobe and computer programming, I think so you can get a job after graduation, as well as non-European history, as a result of violent woke mobs.
Classes are discussion-based in groups of about 20, so in addition to the white people in print, you must also contend with talking to the white people who chose the white supremacist curriculum, many of whom will never learn to listen in their 4 years of discussion-based classes. From here, many will graduate into lives almost exclusively surrounded by other white people, particularly in academia, where their lack of social skills will be tolerated or overlooked.
You won’t read something written by a black person until the second semester of senior year, but that gets written off in the name of the program. It’s chronological — it just can’t be adjusted. Whatever. I’m not saying this school shouldn’t exist, but its whole mission is irrevocably trying to preserve white history in a way that cannot be overhauled or corrected by enticing more people of color to attend, which, if you haven't caught on by now, I don’t think they should.
For a school whose motto promises to “make free human beings out of children by means of books and a balance,” it makes it pretty hard for its graduates to do anything that would free them from their considerable student loans unless they have a predetermined motivation to become a lawyer or politician or go to grad school at a different institution. As with most things, it always helps to start rich.
At St. John’s, you aren’t encouraged to talk about the news or how things apply to the world we’re in now. You’re supposed to live in the text itself and its connection to the other texts you read at St. John’s. It’s an effective way for someone to develop and harbor very unreasonable or stupid or cruel ideas without getting their ass kicked. It’s no wonder then that St. John’s attracted a guy like Kanelos, the same way it attracts a lot of ambitious neoconservatives for whom no safe haven will ever be safe enough.