TORONTO - “St. Mike’s is redeemable”, says the Hon. Dennis Mills, former MP, SMCS Alumnus from the nineteen sixties, entrepreneur, social activist and devotee of the traditions and values of the Basilian Order.
He is almost alone in his optimism.
“Never better” is his trademark response to the usual, polite salutation: how are you? Mr. Mills once filled the role of Communications Director for Prime Minister Trudeau in the difficult early years of the 1980s.
He seen both “the good and the bad” of communications in times of stress.
For St. Mike’s this is “the ugly”, although he won’t say so.
From our perspective at the Corriere, the Administration and Board at St. Mike’s confused crisis management with media containment.
It should have been an elementary first step to acknowledge the problem, express sincere contrition – acknowledge culpability – then lay out a plan of action to remediate and do penance.
Crisis management 101. In Catholic practice, the above is all contained in the Sacrament of Confession.
The Basilian Fathers on the Board should be well versed in the process. Have they abandoned the strictures of the Basilian traditions? How did they miss it?
If nothing else, religion is a guide, a moral compass, for our daily lives.
The rites of Catholicity stress repetition, for it is by doing that we learn. The Athletic Department (yes, even the Academic) is steeped in the concept of “practice makes perfect” – make that perfect practice.
Being a Leader in an Academic environment involves more than the ability to cover your backside (CYA). Mr. Reeves, the principal, is under the continuous glare of light being shone upon him and the faculty. He may be a “nice guy” but he is not doing the school community any favours.
He is not there to shield sta. or students from scrutiny – the issue has exploded well beyond that. The escalation in the number of videos, victims and witnesses that are surfacing, literally by the hour, call for decisive action. It is not a time for people to think only of themselves but to concentrate the mind on the very real probability that St. Mikes may not have a graduating class in 2019 or beyond.
Parents are already scrambling to find alternative schools for their boys. It is probably a safe bet that there will be a steep drop in applications for admissions, and a likely collapse in the number of students who will stay on after Christmas.
Tonight (yesterday), at a previously scheduled Alumni Club Meeting, here’s what the attendees should hear: first, the Athletic program is cancelled immediately for the rest of the school year; second, the Athletic Director has either resigned or been fired; third, the Principal has announced his resignation effective immediately; fourth, the Board of Directors announces the resignation of its Chair/President. These actions would represent the acts of contrition.
Then, and only then, whatever is left of the Board or the Basilian Order should announce that, as penance, the school will waive the tuition fees for the last half of the year for all students who close out the year at the school. SMCS can afford it.
Without these, measures, Mr. Mills may indeed find himself to be a solitary figure in his confidence that St. Mike’s is redeemable.
He’ll be like John the Baptist wandering alone in the desert.