Anti-Harassment Group supports efforts at Senate meeting
Published: Sunday, December 11, 2011
Updated: Monday, December 12, 2011 17:12
On Wednesday Dec. 7, the PUC Faculty Senate held their monthly meeting to discuss important issues facing the school and its administration. In attendance were members of PUC's faculty and staff, concerned alumni, community members, SGA representatives and approximately 100 students, many of which were in support of the recent protests against racism and bigotry on campus.
Chancellor Thomas Keon began the meeting with a brief report on student enrollment management, and raised a concern for increasing the recruitment and retention rate for the university. Associate Professor Judith Hack from the department of Hospitality and Tourism Management brought up a question regarding the reduction of summer semester tuition costs in response to Indiana University-Northwest's recent summer tuition cost reduction.
The Faculty Senate proceeded with usual business until the Senate opened the floor to open discussion. Students in attendance began voicing their concerns in regards to the recent accusations made against Associate Professor Maurice Eisenstein.
Before any questions or comments could be posed by the audience in attendance, Keon took the time to state that "according to university policy, when a situation might arise which might result in some formal act on the part of the administration, the Chancellor must make an independent decision about the situation," and then excused both himself and the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Ralph Rogers, from the meeting.
Open discussion began with student, Daniel Monzin, stating that the students in attendance "could not be intolerant of intolerance" and needed to be able to accept views that do not agree with their own. The back and forth discussion between the students and the Senate circled around the idea that those protesting Eisenstein wanted the official code of ethics that a professor must follow and the duties that a professor must fulfill to be made clear. While some students voiced concerns that formal complaints filed against Eisenstein may not be being handled in a timely manner, most in attendance understood that such actions take weeks and sometimes months to be resolved.
Any questions that were brought up in regards to the specific nature of the investigations were immediately answered by a member of the Senate stating they have no jurisdiction over the investigations and those questions would be better if directed to the administration. At times, Senate members had to state and restate that the Senate's role is to affirm university policy, not to answer grievances.
Eisenstein briefly addressed the Senate and those in attendance by stating "there have been many accusations against me and that I hope to receive a fair trial."
Senate member and English and Philosophy Professor Michael Dobberstein offered a resolution that the Senate acknowledge and re-affirm PUC's commitment to its official university policy in regards to intolerance, as stated in the Purdue University Equal Opportunities Policy. The policy states that, "Purdue University is committed to maintaining an inclusive community that recognizes and values the inherent worth and dignity of every person, a community that fosters tolerance, sensitivity, understanding and mutual respect among its members… The university believes that diversity … strengthens the institution, stimulates creativity, promotes the exchange of ideas and enriches campus life." SGA Student Body President, Jesse Martin, moved Professor Dobberstein's resolution to action, and it was approved by a unanimous vote.
Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ 91.5 also covered the meeting.
Sean Irwin, a political science freshman in attendance at the meeting, said he attended to show the Senate that the student population will not stand for bigotry on campus. When asked for his thoughts in regards to how the Senate is handling the situation he stated that he felt the Senate is "taking this matter seriously."
Irwin quoted Robert F. Kennedy to illustrate his feelings that the student protests will only become stronger the longer they go on.
"Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."