Garthwait Resigns from Board of Trustees After Photo of Him in Nazi Uniform Found in Yearbook
By Benjamin Pontz & Gauri Mangala
Bob Garthwait ’82 has resigned from the Gettysburg College Board of Trustees after a photo of him wearing a Nazi uniform at what appears to be a fraternity party was found in the 1980 edition of Spectrum, the college yearbook. Garthwait, who has donated more than $1 million to the college over the years, most notably for the development of his namesake Garthwait Leadership Center (GLC), was a member of the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity as a student.
The photo was discovered last week by Cameron Sauers ’21, a history major, while he was conducting research in the college archives. He showed the photo to Hannah Labovitz ’21, a member of Gettysburg College Hillel, who identified Garthwait as the individual on the right of the photo with an armband that depicts a large swastika. Labovitz then presented the photo to Dr. Stephen Stern, Chair of the College’s Judaic Studies Program, last Thursday morning.
Upon learning of the photo, college officials reached out to Sauers and Labovitz to discuss the finding. The pair met with President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 and Dean of Students Julie Ramsey Monday afternoon.
“We are very appreciative for their willingness to hear our concerns and listen to our frustrations,” Sauers said in a statement on behalf of himself and Labovitz. “However, we do not consider this matter settled. We do not think a swastika armband has ever been acceptable attire. Mr. Garthwait’s decision to resign from the Board of Trustees is an appropriate first step but larger strides to combat anti-Semitism at Gettysburg College are still needed. Hannah and I would like to hear from other students and welcome any and all opinions about this. Hannah and I will continue to be in contact with Dean Ramsey, President Riggs, and the Board of Trustees regarding this matter.”
In an email, Stern said he has called a meeting of the Judaic Studies program for later this week.
“My opinion is the College ought to return the money,” he added, referring to Garthwait’s donations to the college.
The Yearbook Photo
Garthwait said in a statement released this morning by Riggs in a campus-wide email that the photo depicted a “Hogan’s Heroes”-themed fraternity party his sophomore year of college.
“I understand how disturbing this image is to members of the Gettysburg College community, and especially those who are Jewish,” he said. “As a sophomore in 1980, I was not fully aware of the significance of those symbols. While this is no excuse, I am deeply embarrassed and regret participating in this event where Nazi symbols were used.”
Reached by phone, Marguerite Klein Mumford ’81, the editor of the 1980 edition of Spectrum, said that her job, as editor, was to document what happened at the college and that the only behavior that would be omitted from the yearbook was behavior that was illegal.
“It wasn’t my job to edit anything that happened at the college. It was my job to report what happened at the college,” she said.
She added that she does not remember the specific photo in question, but it would not surprise her if a fraternity had held a “Hogans Heroes”-themed party and if someone attending that party wore a Nazi uniform.
“It was a beloved, well-loved TV show,” she said.
For his part, Garthwait apologized and asked for the campus community’s forgiveness.
“My sincere hope is that our current students will learn from my poor judgement [sic] 38 years ago and be more thoughtful than I was about the impact of their actions on others,” he said. “I extend my sincere apologies to the entire Gettysburg College community, and I humbly ask for your forgiveness.”
Alpha Chi Rho
The current president of Alpha Chi Rho, Thomas Juelke ’20, called the photo “disturbing and offensive” and said it “in no way reflects our fraternity or its values.”
Notably, a member of Alpha Chi Rho was found responsible for hazing last spring through the college’s judicial processes when he tried to compel a new member to write an Anti-Semitic essay.
Asked whether the incidents in tandem reflect a systemic issue of Anti-Semitism in the fraternity, Juelke said that the chapter self-reported last spring’s hazing incident.
“Our fraternity was founded in the idea of respect for all individuals, regardless of race, creed or nationality,” he said. “We do not tolerate discriminatory behavior of any kind, and we self-reported this incident to uphold our commitment to this principle and holding all members accountable for their actions.”
Riggs said that Anti-Semitism is against the core values of the college today just as it was in 1980, when this photo was taken.
“My hope is that all of us in the College community will learn from this—that it will inspire compassion for one another and a rededication among all of us to creating a climate in which all feel welcome,” she said.
The Student Senate Opinions Committee met Tuesday afternoon and approved a draft opinion condemning Anti-Semitism and religious bigotry that the full Senate will consider next Monday.
Andy Hughes, Director of the Garthwait Leadership Center, said that the potential renaming of the GLC is out of his hands.
“As far as I understand that decision is up to the Board of Trustees,” he said. “I personally will want to learn more about the input and responses of students and alumni to help inform my thinking on the matter. I don’t want to leap to judgment on that matter.”
He added that this picture does not represent the Bob Garthwait he has come to know, but that it is inappropriate.
“I am deeply disappointed to see this photo, particularly since the image does not represent who I know Bob to be. This act is never appropriate, no matter the context,” he said. “Our organization believes deeply that respecting and engaging difference is imperative to effective leadership. For the past eight years, we have worked hard to challenge the myth that leadership is simply about power, prestige, or authority.”
Jamie Yates, the college’s spokesperson, said that the Board of Trustees would continue to deliberate on appropriate next steps but would not reach a decision in haste.
“The board needs time to absorb the news and to deliberate on next steps,” she said. “I hope the community will understand that a deliberative approach is far superior to an immediate reaction, and we believe it will be important for students , faculty and trustees to be heard on any further actions to be taken.”
Editor’s Note: This story was initially published Tuesday morning and was updated numerous times throughout the day. As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, it is in its final form. Future updates will come in a new article. (-B. Pontz)
Nicole DeJacimo, Maddie Neiman, Lizzie Hobbs, Joshua Wagner, Mary Frasier, and Charlie Williamson contributed to this report.
February 19, 2019
As a former student at Gettysburg, I’m truly disappointed in the overreaction of the college community. While our 2019 sensibilities would make us think twice about hosting a Hogans Heroes themed party, this took place in 1980. I see no evidence that this man has behaved in any way that would be detrimental to the college or its students. In fact, the suggestion that his legacy be erased is ridiculous and distasteful. To retroactively persecute someone for behavior that at the time was acceptable is cruel and unjust. I’m embaressed to be an alum today, and not because a trustee attended a frat party in 1980. Sincerely from a member of the 1996 graduating class.
February 19, 2019
Sad over-reaction which has become the norm these days – especially in schools. You have smeared a man who has dedicated lots of time (nevermind money) to his (your) college. His explanation is more than plausible and his resignation should be more than enough. I would refuse it. When you find it difficult to fill his seat one the board, it will be because others don’t want you smearing their reputations and will find reason not to serve. I don’t know anything about anti-Semitic issues on Gettysburg College’s campus, but I would seriously doubt their origin would have anything to do with Mr. Garthwait.
February 19, 2019
Unfortunate over reaction on display again
If you look closely Bob actually wearing his ROTC uniform isn’t that a conundrum
Hogan Hero’s a big TV show in the 80’s even in reruns today
Antisemitism has always been bad but that intails hate not wearing clothes
that even today are sold openly
Suggest the college step up recognize what the man did in the past 40 years and not dwell on history
February 19, 2019
As a parent of a Gettysburg student, I am very troubled by the school’s acquiensence to the rule of the mob in its willingness to try and convict an alumnus who has supported the school so generously based solely on the production of a 40 year old photo from a theme party. I expect institutions of higher learning to foster and nurture a respect for truth, not a distorted version to further an agenda. Of course glorfying Nazis and the atrocities they committed is abhorent, but to imply that that is what Mr. Garthwait did is to take things completely out of context. He attended a party in a costume based on the television show, Hogan’s Heroes. For the record this half hour sit-com poked fun at the Nazis in every episode by making them appear to be bungling fools. I do not know Mr. Garthwait, but I did not read one word that attributed any anti-semetic statements or actions to him. What I did read is that he has been extremely generous to an alma mater that is now allowing his name to be unjustly dragged through the mud. The student who found the photo and the student to whom he showed it are very young adults who lack the maturity to fully appreciate the impact of referring to this costume as anti semetic behavior. The college president and faculty should know better. When a few, viewing things through the lens of their unique perspective and interpretation, are allowed to treat that interpretation as fact, that is very very dangerous. It is all too common today, but certainly not what I expect from this school.
February 19, 2019
I was a Jewish classmate of Bob’s. I was not in the same fraternity and I did not know Bob well, so I cannot speak to his character first hand, however I never saw anything to lead me to believe that he had ill will toward anyone. While the party outfit is insensitive when viewed in isolation, I have no reason to think that his wearing a theme party outfit was anything else than a reflection of the humor of the funny sitcom Hogan’s Heroes.
When we attended Gettysburg College almost all of us were immature young adults. The college atmosphere then did not help guide students to be sensitive adults who gave any thought to how a phrase or outfit could be interpreted as hurtful. I silently endured insensitive comments directed at the Jewish community. I didn’t “look Jewish” so I heard more comments than usual.
After the 80’s the college moved toward creating a more understanding atmosphere and educating students and faculty to be more aware of the impact of their actions, and those actions are proper and helpful. However, to judge someone’s actions from the 80’s based on today’s environment is problematic. To extend that logic would mean that college faculty, administration, fraternity house advisers, etc. should be condemned now for allowing that that to happen in the 80’s. They can’t feign ignorance – the photo has been in our yearbook for over 30 years! After all, it’s 2019 and a draft opinion condemning Antisemitism and religious bigotry is only now being considered by the Student Senate Opinions Committee.
The diversity in the student and faculty population has changed from the mostly sheltered one that was in place when we attended Gettysburg College. Had that diversity been present in the 80’s I suspect everyone would have altered many of their actions.
None of his is meant to excuse thoughtful bad behavior, and I recall many deliberate acts that were punished during the four years I attended college. However, I seem to recall a process where a “jury of your peers” heard the evidence and decided the punishment. That punishment was measured in accordance with the “crime.” As a liberal arts college isn’t that the standard Gettysburg College seeks? Condemn the act, but don’t rush to condemn the man.
February 20, 2019
A thought experiment for Gettysburgians past and present:
Imagine growing up watching a television show whose setting was a POW camp in Nazi Germany. Imagine that the events serving as the backdrop to this show had taken place only 20 years prior to its debut. Imagine that despite this, the show became a celebrated comedy and cultural touchpoint. Imagine, in the context of a cultural moment that appreciated this show, going to a costume party whose theme was this show, and dressing as one of the show’s bumbling antagonists.
Imagine almost four decades passing since that party.
Imagine, on the other hand, growing up in a cultural moment where it is commonplace to judge all of history by the narrow concerns of the current year. Imagine observing the routine public ruination of various people on the basis of minor transgressions – committed anywhere from the remote past up to the present – against whatever this moment’s zeitgeist demands. Imagine observing this, and not understanding it as a cynical tactic employed to silence and cow those with whom its tacticians disagree. Imagine instead, you have been taught that behaving this way towards other people, no matter the context, is virtuous. Imagine that you have been sold a Manichean worldview wherein all people are either good only insofar as they advance the ever-changing demands of this worldview, or bad. Imagine that, in this worldview, subjective intent does not matter, and once you are deemed bad, there are no means of redemption.
Imagine being so moved by this worldview that you go fishing for outrages (read: “conducting research”) in old yearbooks, find one such outrage from almost forty years ago, and then start the wheels turning on everybody’s favorite morality play. Imagine possessing the moral certitude to unironically state – after having secured the unequivocal apology and resignation of the object of that outrage – that you “do not consider this matter settled.”
Imagine the ostensible stewards of a prestigious liberal arts college going along with such nonsense and, with seemingly little regard for context or nuance, accepting the resignation of a uniquely dedicated alumnus and trustee. Imagine how long it will take to find another alumnus/a as dedicated and generous to step up to the plate in light of how quickly this one was thrown under the bus.
February 20, 2019
The President of the College must now resign for this ridiculous overreaction. The students concerned for this must also be expelled. This faux outrage over trifles must stop. ANyone who encourages it must face the severest punishment.
February 20, 2019
As a student at Kent State University in the 1990’s, I remember Halloween parties with young men dressed in blackface as Aunt Jemima. I saw men dressed as Bill Clinton, while their girlfriends donned a blue dress and beret, and represented Monica Lewinsky. There was even a young man dressed in a Superman outfit, while riding in a rental wheelchair. The reference to Christopher Reeves was obvious. Yes, all of these outfits were outrageous, but they were all worn by young college kids, trying to find their place in life. They were trying to be creative and funny. They were trying to win awards for best costume. There were even categories of award for “Most outrageous”. And, yes, there was always a bit of alcohol involved. I knew one of these young men, as he was my roommate. He has grown to be a fantastic human being. He is probably a bit more “liberal” than I would prefer, but he is a solid human that loves all people. He has moved into the public realm as a municipal politician. I certainly hope that a good man, who serves his constituency well, is not forced out of his job because of a little shoe polish on his face…..over 20 years ago. And, I am now starting to thank goodness that I was always the stick in the mud that was too cool to wear a costume. Although I was the most politically incorrect, with the crudest jokes, and the lack of sensitivity………at least there is no record. That is what it is coming down to, now. Digging up old record and photo, and ruining lives. Pushing the “old blood” out of their jobs, at any cost. Even though they are not even remotely ferreting out the worst ones, and are hurting the good ones who have tried to make a difference in life. Sad times in America.
February 20, 2019
Ban all three versions of “The Producers” anyone?
February 20, 2019
Shame on you Gettysburg College! I’m embarrassed to be an alumna.
February 20, 2019
The president’s email yesterday referred to this incident as “deeply disturbing”. As the parent of a current Gettysburg student, I find it disturbing as well. What mainly disturbs me is that a loyal and dedicated Gettysburg College trustee has been forced to stop down because of a photograph taken at a fraternity party nearly 40 years ago. Is anyone seriously suggesting that Mr. Garthwait espouses, or ever espoused, Nazi beliefs? Some people (and I am one of them) can question whether a prisoner-of-war camp was an appropriate setting for a TV comedy, but Hogan’s Heroes was a popular show in its day. The larger question, it seems to me, is whether we as a society are going to continue down the path of attempting to ruin the careers of folks who may have made a youthful misstep, decades ago, that does not reflect the persons they have since become. How many people in, for example, Congress, or in the administration of Gettysburg College for that matter, would care to be subjected to that kind of scrutiny? Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, have said or done at least a few things in our youth that we look back on with regret. As a wise man once said: “Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.”
February 20, 2019
As a current student of Gettysburg I would like to apologize for my generation’s “mob mentality.” From the many students I have spoken to, we understand that times have changed and that Bob Garthwait has done a tremendous amount of great work for our school. Most of us are very understanding of how things have changed from the 80s. Heck, so much has changed just within 10 years. We must treat this man with respect and must understand that times were different back then.
February 20, 2019
Why didn’t anyone at the Spectrum find this deeply disturbing in 1980? I am sure there is/was some sort of administrative or faculty review and approval of content prior to any yearbook’s final edition. The point is, we were all different about what we tolerated back then.
Gettysburg College should be better than the response they came up with. I really do not believe Bob voluntarily resigned. That is simply the easiest way out for the school to wash its hands of this over reaction of the undergrads. We can’t be offended today from actions of 40 years ago as teenagers. Not one person ever spoke up as offended about this picture from that era. The college should be ashamed to encourage this type of witch hunt. Why not go after everyone in the picture? Better yet, every member from that fraternity in 1980. The 1980’s college student was not subject to social media criticism so lets not be so quick to judge and condemn some questionable decisions. I too am embarrassed to call this school my Alma Mater.
February 20, 2019
I just wanted to stop and take a moment to thank all of the commenters here for their thoughtful comments evincing great wisdom in the face of even greater folly. Dennis Prager has written a column (https://www.dennisprager.com/moore-kavanaugh-northam-the-lefts-assault-on-repentance/) about the PC mob’s inability to forgive, in the context of VA Governor Bill Northam and now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The bottom line is that no one is perfect and it is eminently foolish to superimpose today’s society’s overblown sensitivities onto the the society of the1980s. If all it takes is a picture from a college party 35 or 40 years ago to destroy a decent human being’s generosity and accomplishments since then, America is in really big trouble.
For what it’s worth, I do not believe Garthwait should have apologized. We have gone overboard into the loony bin with apologies to this group or that group seemingly every day now for perceived slights and insults that were never meant as such when the actions occurred decades ago.
February 20, 2019
One question to ponder is whether Garthwait would have resigned – or been forced to resign – if in his photo he had been wearing a chairman Mao Tse-Tung costume? After all, millions upon millions more people were murdered under Mao’s Communism than the Nazism of Germany. I have my thoughts on this but wanted to put the question out there to see what others think.
February 20, 2019
Another classic demonstration of how muckraking mixed with today’s reactionary mob culture and selective journalism can completely ruin a good person’s reputation. Nowhere mentioned in this article is the fact that “Hogan’s Heroes” was a wildly popular after-dinner sitcom in the 80s that mocked and ridiculed the Nazi regime by depicting Nazi soldiers as comedically incompetent. Many of the cast were relatives of victims or themselves survivors of the Holocaust. A simple google search would reveal these truths, although I highly doubt anyone really considered the facts before deciding that a 40 year old photograph marked a man as a ruthless anti-Semite. I suppose that notoriety and praise from peers with agendas is much more stimulating than leaving well enough alone. We now find ourselves in a world where mistakes of half a century ago hold the power to obliterate all shreds of personal growth throughout one’s lifetime, and that is truly unsettling. If I were Mr. Garthwait, I would feel foolish for having spent countless hours in careful consideration of the betterment of this college community that seeks only to accuse and slander and rather than protect and forgive.
February 20, 2019
I graduated in 1980. I absolutely remember this picture. I am pretty sure I even attended the party as CROW was one of my favorite haunts. Frats often had parties, 4 in 1’s, where each floor of the fraternity was responsible for a theme. At the time, I don’t remember any evil intent, no espousing of hate speech. If there had been, I would have left.
That being said, as soon as I saw the link to the article, I knew EXACTLY what picture they were talking about. Something about that picture stuck in my head. Uncomfortable? Stupid? Unnecessary? I do understand that 1980 was nearly forty years ago and that times were different. I would hope that all of us are older and wiser, having that much life experience under our belts. But unlike many who have commented here, I don’t have a problem with the College’s response, nor Mr. Garthwait’s resignation.
It doesn’t sound to me like students went “fishing” for anything offensive in our history. They were doing an assignment, found it and reported it. I can tell you that in that same yearbook there are probably pictures of other offensive behavior. After all, in those days, even though the legal drinking age was 21, fraternity parties were a fixture on campus. The College was fully aware that almost everyone was under age. So, there was a lot of drinking, of which, I admit, I was a willing participant. Plenty of pictures of people doing stupid things.
However, now that the picture has been brought to light in 2019, it is right to apologize. It is right to offer a resignation. And, I think it is right to accept it. If the College wants to be clear that this depiction (stupid or otherwise) does not reflect the current atmosphere at Gettysburg, then the only way that is going to happen is if this is taken seriously. And, yes, he is not the only one in the picture, so bad judgment on all of their parts.
It is a shame that this picture from forty years ago is going to derail a career of generosity. I don’t remember Bob Garthwait as anything but a kind of cheerful goof. Glad that he has done well with his life and that he has done so much for the College. We all have to take responsibility for the things we have done. To me, the big difference is that he has been on the Board and is the face of our school. For that reason, I think the actions taken are appropriate.
February 21, 2019
Pat, I couldn’t agree more!
I also applaud your having bravely confessed, in writing, to being a “willing participant in a lot of underage drinking.” You astutely point out, “[there are] plenty of photos of people doing stupid things.” I’ll bet there are examples backing up your confession as well. Remember those?
Perhaps I missed it, but your well written note seems to have skipped an apology for your having brazenly broken the law. No matter really, as we are now applying current state thinking to acts committed in 1980. Given your written confession, and guaranteed photographic proof, this is entirely a legal matter and thus, an apology is really superfluous. Or is it? Apology was “appropriate” for Garthwait, right? Why not you?
Instead, I’d expect a person of your character to, “take responsibility for the things [you] have done” and therefore turn yourself into the authorities immediately. Did you know that underage drinking is a punishable offense under Pennsylvania Law Statute 18 Pa. C.S. 6308? No debate, it’s in black and white.
To be crystal clear, a person is guilty if they are under the age of 21 and; purchase, attempt to purchase, consume, possess or knowingly transport any beverage that contains .50% of alcohol by volume (a/b/v). It is important to note that a “non-alcoholic” beverage, such as O’Doul’s, contain .50% of alcohol by volume and would constitute a violation under this section.
You’ve told all of the Internet, in writing, that you were a willing participant, engaged in a lot of underage drinking – certainly not a “once or twice and done” type of situation. You’d therefore want to understand the penalties associated with a third underage drinking offense:
2 year loss of driver’s license
A maximum fine of $500+
90 days in jail
Notification of parents or guardians (under 18 offenders)
Pat, you are an honorable human being, of this I am certain. You must therefore, be subject to the same retroactive application of standards applied to Garthwait. Anything less wouldn’t be, “appropriate” – and we know how you feel about that.
I, for one appreciate your zeal to clean up the awful Garthwait history and for bravely stepping up to clean up your own mess too.
I shall assume a written apology and confirmation of your surrender to the authorities is forthcoming, and will be shared with this and all other press outlets.
February 26, 2019
Well, someone who wore a Nazi uniform for real got us to the moon. Numerous actors have played parts as Nazis and wore the uniform. Shall all of those actors be penalized for the roles they accepted. I worry about the mental health of those who are “deeply disturbed.” And what shall we do about those who have pictures of Che Guevara on their walls or T-shirts? Che was a killer and many of those with his image on wall or shirt mean it as support for his actions and goals. Garthwait owed no one an apology. He did nothing wrong.
February 20, 2019
I am so pleased to read the comments of fellow alums. I am so disappointed in the decision and reaction of the College. How sad that someone who has dedicated most of his life giving to and supporting Gettysburg College has his reputation destroyed over a costume worn during a house party. Shame on you Gettysburg College. How pathetic is it that our society thinks nothing of destroying people by trying to imply motivations? Are we now going to search through every issue of the college’s yearbook in the hopes of demonizing more wonderful alumni?
I have always been so proud to say that I graduated from Gettysburg…not now.
February 20, 2019
I think we should Strip Hogans Heroes of all it’s Golden Globes and Emmy’s. How about the bigoted racist Archie Bunker in All In The Family. Homer from The Simpson’s should have the book thrown at him (or anyone who has worn a Homer Simpson Halloween Costume). George Jefferson is a fine example of a man who was a racist with his slurs and condemnation of people from Interracial marriages. We mustn’t forget the good ole boy’s in the Dukes of Hazzard. They were always getting into trouble with the Law and speeding in the car named “General Lee” with a large Confederate flag painted on the roof. (Boy oh Boy, The Daisy Duke costumes run amuck ). We could go on and on from Hot Lips Houlihan to the Bay Watch Babes and finally, Larry Hagman in I dream of Jeannie forcing a beautiful woman to wear a bra and Harem Pants and live in a bottle and call her captor “Master” while catering to his every need. Were they making fun of Women forced into the sex trade? I Dream of Jeannie Harem Pants and Bras have been worn by thousands of women…probably even some men (making fun of Transvestites perhaps?) Most likely thousands upon thousands of people have dressed up in a costume inspired by one of these shows. The characters in Hogans Heroes made fun of the Third Reich, made jokes about the bumbling incompetence of the Commander and his men. All the while, the American POW’s were freeing secretly allied POW’S through tunnels and tomfoolery.
I’m sitting Indian style on this not like a pretzel (I’m not making fun of American Indians either!) We are furious that this ridiculous overreaction has caused this wonderful, generous man shame and humiliation. All the while being one of the greatest fundraisers and dedicated alums in the history of Gettysburg College. We are so so disappointed in what has happened to Mr. Garthwait at a place we believed to be one of the finest Colleges in the United States. Donations from alums? Why? Why would anyone put themselves under the microscope? (Especially any of us who have trick or treated or attended a Theme Party) Gettysburg has instead of being politically correct has deeply offended many of us who love and respect diversity in every way and abhor racism, antisemitism, sexism, anti-Muslim behavior and all aspects prejudiced behavior.
This is a catastrophic loss for Gettysburg College and our children. Thank You Bob Garthwait for all that you have done on the behalf of our children and your beloved school Gettysburg College
February 20, 2019
Garthwait should not have resigned or apologized. As a Jew, I am embarrassed for Hanah Lebovitz. This is not anti-Antisemitism. She, a history major, should know better. Hogan’s Heroes had nothing to do with Antisemitism. It was clearly a parody demonstrating the ineptitude of the Nazi party. Using Hanah’s logic, and that of the school, we should move our nation’s capital, rename the Washington Monument and level the Jefferson Memorial since Washington and Jefferson both owned slaves. I can only hope that all of these comments that support Garthwait and disavow Hanah and the school do not interfere with Lebovitz’ pursuit of her career goals. I am confident that undoubtedly some future potential employer will uncover this unfair vilification of a good man during their analysis of her for employment.
February 20, 2019
As a parent of a current Gettysburg student I want to say that I agree that the school did not handle this well. It sounds like Mr. Garthwaite has been a
valued member of the Gettysburg College community for many years. He has given the school time and money and is well liked by the students. And what about the other people in the
picture? This story has now been
covered by newspapers from New York
to California. What kind of
repercussions are they experiencing
from this? About three years ago the school had a diversity program brought about by the Black Lives Matter students. Afterwards there was a picture on the school website of students wearing t shirts that said ” I want to be Martin but y’all are making be like Malcom” with a raised fist. I found that to be offensive! And in 2013 Dean Ramsey approved Bill Ayers to speak at the school. This is a man who has been labeled a domestic terrorist by the FBI. I found that to be offensive! Perhaps President Riggs and Dean Ramsey should do some soul searching before casting stones.
February 20, 2019
Let us now examine a man’s moral standing with a 40 year measuring stick, what could go wrong?
Show me the person who doesn’t cringe thinking about their college-aged stupidity. In 1000 samples, you couldn’t find one.
I do wonder, does any limit exist to this madness? This photo was a mere 39 years old, so clearly that’s not the cutoff.
What say you morality police? You without sin? You without regret? You without mistake?
I have 18 month old twin boys and a 3 year old daughter. I’d like very much that one day they assume and hold positions of prominence in their lives. So that I might begin preparing them for lives devoid of regrettable action, when can their last mistake be made?
You fancy you’ve done great work here?
I read your literature in the mail, you’re at the vanguard of building the leaders of tomorrow…so suggests the literature.
You’ve done no such thing.
With reactions like this, you’ve contributed to the outrage culture and will produce instead an educated fool; who confuses thinking for feeling.
Your opportunity here is so obvious.
A part of leadership is about acknowledging, confronting and contending with mistakes in a forthright and transparent manner.
Why don’t you have him speak to a group students about the incident? The theme could be how much wisdom one gain’s in lifetime.
Yes, there would be a loud, clamoring mob outside protesting about how they feel under attack – how his platform to speak is tantamount to violence. Those are the fools.
But then on the inside, you’ll have a larger audience, and those people will avail themselves an opportunity to see what leadership is all about.
The man speaking has a building with his namesake about leadership, perhaps you grant him an opportunity to show it.
February 21, 2019
I am writing to express my outrage and dismay at how some students, faculty, trustees and the President of Gettysburg college have reacted to the discovery of the 39-year-old photo of long-time benefactor and trustee Bob Garthwait dressed as a character of a popular sitcom. One student writes that this is a “teachable moment”. Indeed it is but, sadly, the wrong lessons are being taught.
The student who discovered it asks “…was Nazism not considered evil in 1980? I shudder at the thought and wish to never return to a time when white supremacist symbols are acceptable.”
Of COURSE Nazism was considered evil in 1980! What a dumb question. You don’t need to “shudder”. What you do need to do is try to understand the actual intent and context of what is being depicted. It is despicable that so many, including, sadly, some faculty, failed to do so and are so quick to ruin the reputation of such a decent, generous and obvious benefactor such as Mr. Garthwait. Reality is not optional and Nazism and the swastika symbols were a real part of history that should not be hidden or suppressed in the name of protecting overly tender sensitivities. The reality of that evil was mocked in the tv sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, which depicts the Nazis as incompetent and bumbling, easily played for fools by the clever prisoners who operated undetected under their nose in support of the allied efforts to defeat Nazism. THAT was the theme of the fraternity party for which Mr. Garthwait was dressed. Nobody then would mistake such mockery as anti-semitic or supportive of Nazism or white supremacy. Quite the opposite. That students, several faculty and others DO make this tragic mistake is disturbing and indicative of ignorance and, worse, a misplaced self-righteousness that propels you to dare sit in judgement of a good man, unjustly ruining his reputation in the process. Shame on all of you for that.
It is not only acceptable to expose the symbols of evil, it is necessary to expose them, to mock them and to shine a light on them to prevent such evils from being repeated. Hogan’s Hereos, my brothers in AXP and Mr. Garthwait were doing exactly that.
I do not believe Mr. Garthwait owes anybody an apology nor should have any regrets. It is the Gettysburg College community that owes an apology to Mr. Garthwait. He should be encouraged to resume his seat on the board of trustees so he can continue the enormous good work that he has done to make Gettysburg College a better place.
February 22, 2019
I didn’t go to Gettysburg College, and, frankly, didn’t know it existed, but this poor fellow is just the latest victim. One thought does come to mind. If Mr Garthwait and the rest of the Trustees of this prestigious college have done such a good job with their “enormous good work” that has been done to make Gettysburg College a better place, why did the college even consider this action. If I were him, I would take them up on the demand that every dollar he has contributed or spent on the furtherance of the college be returned, with interest. They clearly do not care what he has done or spent, and are ingrates of the first water.
February 24, 2019
I am deeply disappointed in the response of the College, through its President and Board of Trustees, to the publication of the subject photo from 1980.
If Gettysburg College aspires to, or claims to now occupy, a place among the truly prestigious undergraduate institutions, it must exemplify the intellectual independence to critically question the prevailing norms and have the courage to reject those norms when the facts so indicate. History demonstrates social (i.e; civil rights), as well as scientific (i.e, Albert Einstein) progress resulting from taking a position,when well reasoned, that is contrary to a currently popular theory or norm. In this case, there seems to be no allegation, let alone evidence, that Mr. Garthwait and friends intended anything other than to don Halloween costumes in good fun that depicted characters in a popular television show that, indeed, ridiculed the Nazi regime in a comedic setting. There was nothing wrong with that in 1980 or today. The College should not have succumbed to the current social movement that makes it popular to condemn as racist or insensitive even innocent acts and actors . Instead, the College should have seized the opportunity to demonstrate its critical thinking by distinguishing these facts from the other situations that righteously started this current social movement; and then should have demonstrated the academic independence and courage to support Mr. Garthwait. A second opportunity now presents itself for the College that should not be missed. That opportunity is to rectify its initial precipitous “politically correct” response by taking the more difficult path of resistance to social pressure. Doing the right thing is now all the more difficult, but also more courageous and admirable, because it requires acknowledging an initial error in judgment and demonstrating the courage to reconsider and act upon it.
“Education does not mean teaching people what they do not know…it is a painful, continual and difficult work to be done by kindness, by watching, by warning, by precept and by praise, but above all- by example.” Ruskin
February 26, 2019
Who “holocausted” 250,000 civilians by fire. Sacrificed to the hebrew god, the bodies of the women and children burned alive by the hundred thousand one night in Dresdan. The bombing continued until all infrastructure was destroyed. All food and medicine for typhus was unable to reach the people of Germany. Many in socialist work camps died from the lack of food and medicine. How does a immoral victor justify such barbarity? With endless propaganda, monuments in every town, lessons in every school book & movie. Never forget the big lie. Question authority. Look at things from the others perspective. There is no good vs evil, only good vs good. Love is the #1 killing emotion. Stop the love?