Birmingham-Southern College is stepping out with a statement about the arrest of its students implicated in the Alabama church fires.
It’s not earth-shattering by any stretch, but when your sky is already falling you’re better off playing it safe. There are some obligatory points you have to hit in these situations. The key is to be humble, sincere, and apologetic without admitting any culpability or liability. You don’t want to over-apologize to the point of a guilty posture.
The quotes from Birmingham-Southern College President Dr. David Pollick run the gamut from …
â€œIn response to the two students having been charged with arson of nine Alabama community churches, Birmingham-Southern College has suspended each student from the college and immediately banned them from campus awaiting further action by the authorities. The students, faculty and staff of our college are at once shocked and outraged, and we share the sorrow of our neighbors whose churches represent the heart and soul of their communities.
â€œThese cruel and senseless acts of destruction have profoundly touched our college community. Where there once existed such a clear line between the harmless and playful and the harmful and cruel, we increasingly see young adults throughout our nation incapable of distinguishing between healthy and destructive conduct. Boundaries are all too often exceeded. The social use of alcohol moves easily and too frequently to dangerous irresponsibility. Innocent and healthy stages of interpersonal social encounters too frequently degrade to violent and personal acts of violation. We see symptoms of a culture of personal license so powerfully magnified in the actions of these young men.”
… to an extension of …
â€œWe also are deeply concerned for the families of these young men, knowing the pain they are experiencing. The entire community of Birmingham-Southern Collegeâ€”students, faculty, and staffâ€”pledges to aid in the rebuilding of these lost churches through our resources and our labor. Together weâ€™ll stand as a reminder of the strength of communities that transcend the differences of religion and place, as well as the effects of mindless cruelty.â€
Campus Police Chief Randy Youngblood added the obligatory comment designed to demonstrate transparency and a commitment to justice:
â€œThe college cooperated in every regard to the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the state Fire Marshallâ€™s Office, and we will continue to do so as needed.â€
To be honest, those cop-talk bites are fairly rote and scripted. I’m fairly certain part of the “cooperation” entails saying just this much about the investigation, and no more.
Thoughts from the peanut gallery, anyone?