The Chronicle of Higher Education recently identified five schools that “you might not know are tied to slaveholders” (Rutgers, University of Cincinnati, Sweet Briar College, Furman, and George Mason).
Against this background, it’s not surprising that investigators are beginning to shine a harsh light on unsavory associations of colleges and universities that extend far beyond slavery. Here are three examples recently discovered by University Life:
Johansen-Poulsen Barber College (Grygla, Minnesota) — Founded in 1824 by Norwegian immigrant Torvil “Wally” Johansen-Poulsen, this is the most prestigious barber college in northwestern Minnesota. (The first Beatles haircut in the United States was given there in February 1963.)
It now appears that Mr. Johansen-Poulsen was a cat hoarder, keeping up to 125 felines at a time in his small, one-bedroom home. According to University of Minnesota cat genealogist Wendy Trilsk-Hammond, Johansen-Poulson named all of his cats “Vincent,” which generated a paralyzing level of confusion whenever he attempted to summon one of them. The incidence of mental illness in the cats he owned was at least five times higher than the overall rate for domestic felines in Minnesota.
Trustees are considering a number of new names for the College, with a decision expected by mid-2021.
The University of Arkansas — The Fayetteville school has removed a statue of country legend Johnny Cash from the entrance to its Razorback Horseshoe Pit on the south side of campus. This action was prompted by a reconsideration of the line, “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die,” from Cash’s 1968 hit song, Folsom Prison Blues.
“Let’s be clear,” explains Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz. “In Arkansas we do NOT have a problem with people shooting people. We do it all the time. Hell, just last week I filled my 16-year-old nephew’s left buttock with buckshot when I caught him siphoning gas out of my SUV. But you’ve got to have a good reason for shooting someone. ‘To watch him die’ is not a good reason. Not even close.”
University of Southern California — The Sonny and Cher Performing Arts Center will be stripped of the musical duo’s name in July 2021. According to USC President Carol Folt, there is now a consensus among historians that Sonny and Cher were primarily responsible for the revival of public interest in bell-bottom pants throughout the 1970s.
“To have USC associated with this unfathomable fashion atrocity is simply not acceptable,” says Folt. “So many lives and reputations were ruined, not to mention the tragedy of New York City’s Sewer Rat Panic of 1975, when thousands of rabid rodents surreptitiously scurried up the breeze-inflated pant legs of vulnerable Central Park walkers to inflict fatal ankle and calf wounds. We lost many of our best and brightest that summer. The time for reckoning has come.”
Amen, Sister Folt. Amen.