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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bulger Must Go

“Billy Bulger may have great love for his brother. But the debt he owes his brother’s victims is greater.” Eagle Tribune Editorial, December 5, 2002

It would have been difficult to miss the numerous headlines and articles in recent weeks concerning UMass President William Bulger. William Bulger was called to testify before the House of Representatives’ Government Reform Committee investigating links between the Boston FBI and the mob.

On Friday, December 6, after declining an earlier request to voluntarily appear before the committee–and finally being summoned by a subpoena–William Bulger acquiesced and appeared. The committee sought to question Billy Bulger about his fugitive gangster brother James “Whitey” Bulger.

But Billy wouldn’t rat on his brother–he invoked his constitutional right not to incriminate himself via the Fifth Amendment.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, as many have pointed out, Billy wouldn’t have to worry about incriminating himself if he weren’t hiding a crime.

Even more serious than that is the question of loyalty. William Bulger is a man who has fed at the public trough for most of his life, and continues to do so, yet apparently feels little loyalty to the citizenry who have fed him so well.

The citizenry openly question his ethics and his loyalty to them. What of his role as the shepherd of the UMass budget? What of the UMass faculty and staff (many of whom have voted “no confidence” in a president they feel betrayed them)? What of the UMass students?

And what of the American public? Elsewhere in this newspaper a writer argues that there is little likelihood of “Whitey” being a danger to anyone at this point. Hello–twenty murders? At this point, what’s one or two more…?

As a U.S. citizen William Bulger has an absolute right to protect himself against self-incrimination. As a member of academia, though, he cannot claim to pursue truth, and also proclaim his willingness to protect a murderer. Family loyalty cannot shield a murderer. If William Bulger does not understand this, then we must ask if he can understand more elaborate truths.

As a consequence of his decision not to speak, President Bulger must forfeit the intellectual, political, and ethical leadership that he feigns as President of the University of Massachusetts.

This is a time for serious questions and a call for leadership. When that call is answered with a deafening silence and perpetual obstruction of justice, then it is time for a new leader.

The Board of Trustees must demand President Bulger’s resignation, and if they do not receive it, then his contract must be terminated, lest our diplomas be stained with his dishonor.