But what's this plan to move Ave Maria Law School from Ann Arbor to somewhere in Florida?
"We'll own all commercial real estate," [Tom Monaghan, founder of the school and of Domino's Pizza] declared, describing his vision. "That means we will be able to control what goes on there. You won't be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in Ave Maria Town. We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in Ave Maria Town. If you go to the drug store and you want to buy the pill or the condoms or contraception, you won't be able to get that in Ave Maria Town."What a creepy vision! I wonder how different the set of students that applies to the Florida version of the school will be from the set that applies to the Ann Arbor school. Obviously, Ave Maria is a school designed to attract Catholic students, but I should think a different sort of student is going to be attracted to this super-sanitized environment than would want to be in Ann Arbor. And what about attracting and retaining faculty? One alumnus complains about the shift in the school's mission, which he'd understood was "to create attorneys who were well versed in Catholic social teaching and the law, who would engage the world and not retreat from it."
Do you think there's something tainted about wanting an untainted environment?
UPDATE: I want to say that I'm not against individuals deciding they want to live in retreat from the world. We all retreat to some extent. I think calling Ave Maria Town a "Catholic Jonestown" is offensive. I deliberately left that catchy epithet from the linked article out of my post. It's plainly wrong to lump all religious retreats together and label them with the name of the very worst one you can think of. It is not inherently wrong to want to live in a convent or a commune. It's not wrong to want to separate yourself from worldly temptations. Not every individual who chooses the life of a hermit should be called a Ted Kaczynsky. Religious (and nonreligious) enclaves should be judged on their own merit.
I have two big problems with Ave Maria Town:
1. Ave Maria is a law school. You can't practice law separate from the real world. You can't retreat and purify yourself. You have to become involved with the complexities of life, not shrink away from them.
2. Ave Maria has an existing faculty and student body who came to the law school that exists now in Ann Arbor. To move the school to Ave Maria Town imposes a radical change on them. Their opinions about whether the move is a good idea need to be taken very seriously. This isn't a matter of an individual deciding to go into retreat. Monaghan is deciding that others, who have adopted one way of life, need to live in a more purified environment.