To the Editors (and Michael P. O'Donnell, MBA, MPH, PhD),
I have had the pleasure of studying at Rice for the last three years. The campus, the faculty, the students — these should be the impressions with which I leave Rice. However, I find myself concerned — stunned, even — by the comments attributed to Michael P. O'Donnell, MBA, MPH, PhD, in the November 30 issue of the Thresher. In his letter, Mr. O'Donnell not only had the grace to pick a fight with a student, but also the magnanimity of purpose to call him out by name — edification in the public sphere being, naturally, the inheritance of our Puritan forebears. I cannot think of any more salubrious a use of time for the editor of a journal on health sciences.
Mr. O'Donnell, MBA, MPH, PhD, puts his staid judgment to use upfront, posing in his harangue not one, not two, but three questions to the student, whom he deems guilty of slander, libel, or otherwise detracting from public discourse through the gravest of modern criminal acts: political dissent. Perhaps, on behalf of the aggrieved, I might raise a hand before Mr. O'Donnell's bully pulpit.
First, Mr. O'Donnell, MBA, MPH, PhD, avers that the sophomore failed to use objective evidence to substantiate his claims. Yet, Mr. O'Donnell assures us that what he himself has "seen" — through an unspecified specific media outlet — is somehow less circumstantial.
Second, Mr. O'Donnell, MBA, MPH, PhD, asks how the sophomore would feel if someone spoke of his mother as he did of a certain erstwhile political figure. I can only infer that Mr. O'Donnell would never want a child to pass a moral judgment on his or her parents. Rather, that he believes some people are —must be, in fact — immune from the "rights" and "wrongs" to which we hold others.
Third (and lastly!), Mr. O'Donnell, MBA, MPH, PhD, inquires of the student what he imagines an employer might think "about a student who makes inflammatory statements in public with no evidence to support them”. Yes, Mr. O'Donnell has an MBA, an MPH, and even a PhD, but what legitimacy do these titles confer on someone who, as a guest on our campus, sought to pick a fight with a student simply for holding a different opinion? I leave it to prospective employers to decide.
To Mr. O'Donnell, however — to his indefatigably sharp eye and unimpeachably puerile writings — I say one thing: touché.
Ted Fruchtman, BA (pending), Will Rice College ‘17