A resolution bringing higher measures of protection to faculty members was defeated Tuesday by the University Faculty Senate.
The Faculty Senate removed itself from a national debate circling the termination of former Virginia Tech Professor Steven Salaita’s hiring at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Salaita was slated to take a position at UIUC this year, but he was informed at the last minute by UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise he would not be employed by the University because of his anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist posts to Twitter.
Faculty Senate debated a resolution designed, at first, to protect professors from situations like that which cost Salaita his job.
Over the course of three months’ meetings, the Faculty Senate changed its stance, only for the resolution to be defeated in a split decision vote called for 20 minutes after the meeting was set to end.
The resolution stated the Faculty Senate expressed concern Wise did not consult the UIUC faculty before making her decision — the first version of the resolution stated Wise’s decision was an assault on academic freedom producing a “chilling effect on the ability of faculty members everywhere to speak openly on matters of public concern without losing their jobs.”
According to the first resolution, the University’s Faculty Senate would have aligned itself with the Campus Faculty Association of UIUC, the American Association of University Professors and 60 professors at UIUC who have publicly called on Wise to reinstate Salaita’s employment in order to protect his academic freedom.
Prior to discussing academic freedom, the Faculty Senate started its meeting on a lighter note.
Chemistry Professor Randy Duran updated the senate on LSU Discover, a program to aimed institute undergraduate research as a part of the University’s quality enhancement plan — a requirement for reaffirmation of accreditation.
LSU Discover seeks to involve undergraduate students in research projects. Duran said the program has two new initiatives for its undergraduate researchers — one to provide students with opportunities for travel and the other to provide housing for international students involved in undergraduate research.
Another topic common among undergraduate students is academic accountability.
Student Advocacy and Accountability Director Matthew Gregory, Dean of Students K.C. White and Assistant Dean of Students Katie Barras gave a presentation to the Faculty Senate about student academic honesty policies and enforcement, discussing the methods faculty should use when reporting students for academic dishonesty.
Barras said the Student Advocacy and Accountability doesn’t use the same previous terms, preferring to say students are either responsible for not instead of labeling students as guilty or not guilty for an act, but they are still impactful.