Transcript General Faculty Meeting
March 7, 2017
James Goldstein, chair: Welcome to the spring 2017 General meeting of the Auburn University Faculty. Just as a reminder there’s no sign-in sheet because this is not an attendance taking event, the quorum is whoever show up. Not that we are voting today.
Okay, I call the meeting to order. I am James Goldstein, chair of the faculty as well as chair of the University Senate. The first this we have to do is to approve the minutes from the fall meeting (the meeting of October 4, 2016). I don’t think we need to pull them up unless anybody noticed any corrections or changes that anybody wanted to make. Did anybody have anything? In that case, all in favor of approving the minutes as they were posted please say aye.
James Goldstein, chair: Opposed? (no response) The minutes are so approved.
Next on the agenda are remarks from the president, Dr. Gogue, who will now give his final report on the state of the University to the faculty. [1:24]
Dr. Jay Gogue, President: I just want to share with you a couple of things. Delighted to be with you today. Last fall we welcomed a very large but very strong academic class to Auburn. One of the strongest freshman classes that we’ve had both in terms of GPA as well as ACT scores. Early in September we reached our goal of a million dollars in the campaign, which I think most of you are aware of, at that point we had about 15 months, the campaign will end in December of this year. And hopefully be in the 1.15-1.2 range in terms of the final campaign numbers.
In November at the General Election I think it was important a constitutional amendment change relative to Auburn was passed. Two new at large Trustees positions were created to try to be more reflective of Alabama in our population. Two individuals have been confirmed by the Senate; Quintin Riggins and General Lloyd Austin.
I did want to mention Athletics and the 10 years that I’ve been at Auburn there have been no NCAA violations of the major type. I think we are the only school in the SEC that has not had one in the last 10 years.
I wanted to also share with you that, I didn’t go back and count the number, but in the last 10 years all resolutions by the Senate have been approved by the Board of Trustees. All that you’ve submitted.
Strategic Planning, I want to make just a couple of comments. We had a 5 year plan and we’re in our second 5 year plan and I would just give the campus tremendous credit in the way you approached both of those. A strategic plan is a commodity, it is not particular unique or special but the implementation is a real art. I would have to say faculty and Provost and a whole group of people have made that in some tight budget times more successful than we anticipated.
We are excited about the groundbreaking of the new Performing Arts Center, that will be in April. Tiger Giving Day was recently; there were 29 projects that were posed in a 24 hour period of time, 20 of those were fully funded. All of the construction projects that I am aware of are on track in terms of the Pharmacy Building, the Nursing Building, and the Mell Classroom Building.
The Alabama Legislature is in session. We understand there may be as much as 90 million dollars added to the Educational Trust Fund this year. Big debate, remember if you have 90 million in the trust fund, about 70%, 72% will go to K–12 the remainder goes to higher ed. The big debate is whether or not they take the needed money for the veterans off the top or if they take it off the higher ed section. That’s an additional 30 million dollars which will bring the support that the State gives to veterans to 90 million dollars.
The Trump Administration released a new Executive Order yesterday on travel. Provost and I and legal council we tried to look at it and make some sense out of it, we think we have, but Andy (Gillespie) and others will be able to comment further on that if there are questions.
I certainly appreciate your kindness over the last 10 years, enjoyed working with each one of you and wish you well, thank you. [Much applause] [5:01]
James Goldstein, chair: Although I am privileged this year to serve as chair of the University Senate, today I am speaking as chair of the faculty. I want to take this opportunity to share some thoughts and observations about the current state of academic freedom, both at this institution and in the nation at large. We find ourselves at a historic crossroads. A search is currently underway to find a successor to our current president, Dr. Gogue, who has served this university with distinction since 2007. I recall first meeting with President Gogue soon after his arrival on campus, when he met with the leadership of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors. During that meeting he affirmed his strong commitment to the principles of academic freedom and tenure, and to the faculty’s critical role in shared governance. During the nearly ten years that he has served as president, I have seen him maintain his commitment to those fundamental principles without fail. For this, on behalf of the entire faculty, I wish to express my profound gratitude.
As I reported at the fall General Faculty meeting, when the new presidential search committee was about to begin its work in the fall, I made the point to Trustee Raymond Harbert, chair of the search committee; and Mr. William Funk, head of the search firm, that for the next president to have the full faith and confidence of the faculty, he or she would need to come from an academic background, have risen through the ranks to earn tenure, and to be committed to the principles of academic freedom and its dependence on academic tenure. When the next president is selected by the Board of Trustees, I hope that the faculty’s expectations in this crucial matter will not be disappointed.
Most of you present today are broadly familiar with the AAUP’s 1940 Statement on the Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure, whose principles are enshrined in our Faculty Handbook (i). Because Auburn finds itself at a historical turning point, I would like to review briefly another foundational document, the 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, jointly formulated by the American Association of University Professors, the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB). (ii) This document clarifies the role of the faculty in shared governance. The various regional accreditation bodies, including SACS, hold universities accountable for abiding by the shared governance standards to which they have agreed. The 1966 statement says: “The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.” In other words, the faculty holds the primary responsibility—but not the sole responsibility—for all matters relating to teaching and research. These are two of our three central missions at Auburn University. I would interpret the extension component of our mission as also covered by this language, for extension includes both instruction and research in bringing knowledge and expertise to the citizens of this state and beyond.
As the 1966 statement on governance goes on to clarify, “Faculty status and related matters are primarily a faculty responsibility; this area includes appointments, reappointments, decisions not to reappoint, promotions, the granting of tenure, and dismissal. The primary responsibility of the faculty for such matters is based upon the fact that its judgment is central to general educational policy.” This principle means, for example, that deciding the institutional standards for promotion and tenure, as well as the decision of individual cases, must be primarily the responsibility of the faculty, not of the deans or provost. The Senate leadership is currently working with the Provost’s Office in devising a system for the periodic review of P&T standards by the individual departments and units. But the primary responsibility for such reviews must always remain in the hands of the faculty, whose disciplinary judgment is based on their special expertise.
For the current model of shared governance to succeed, it is vital that both the administration and the faculty understand which matters are the faculty’s primary responsibility. But the faculty must also be willing to shoulder its burden in meeting those responsibilities, through their service to departments, colleges, and the university. Yet it will become increasingly difficult to staff committees if the ratio of tenure-line faculty to contingent faculty declines, even as the number of administrators steadily rises.
In addition to carrying out their assigned duties, the faculty must be willing to stand up to any efforts to undermine their responsibilities whenever they are threatened by forces internal or external. There may even be occasions in the future, as there have been in the past, when it is necessary for the faculty, whether individually or through representative bodies like the University Senate and its committees, to express criticism of how the institution is governed. Indeed, our Faculty Handbook affirms the AAUP-endorsed principle that when faculty members “speak or write on matters of public interest as well as matters related to professional duties and the functioning of the University, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.” The importance of that principle to the health of the university cannot be overstated.
One of the strongest safeguards of this critical component of academic freedom is tenure. I see evidence every day that many of my non-tenure-track colleagues do not feel entirely free to express their views on the governance of their departments, colleges, and the university. In the Senate meeting on March 21, we will be hearing a presentation from Dr. Drew Clark, Director of Institutional Research, on the percentage of instruction carried by non-tenure-track faculty. The Faculty Handbook (3.5.1.O) requires that this data be monitored so that the tenure system is not eroded to dangerous levels at Auburn. Tenure is, to put it simply, the strongest guarantee of academic freedom. Academic freedom is designed to allow faculty members and their students to pursue the truth in their teaching and research, even if it leads them to unpopular conclusions. Now more than ever, it is essential not only that humanities scholars like myself, but also social scientists and researchers in STEM disciplines be allowed to conduct their research and to pursue the truth no matter where it leads them. Research into climate change, agriculture, health care, technology, race, gender, and sexuality, to name just a few critical areas, must be allowed to proceed without interference from corporate or partisan political interests. The results of such investigations must be allowed to be shared freely in the classroom. That is what universities in this country, at least, are all about.
We certainly live in interesting times. The political temperature in our universities and the nation has probably not been this heated since the 1960s. The First Amendment right to free speech, one of the cornerstones of American civic life, is sometimes placed under extreme stress on colleges and universities, both from the right and the left. I am an avid student of political controversies involving institutions of higher education, and I follow national events more closely, perhaps, than some of my colleagues. I am proud of Auburn for not having made the national news when a student group sponsored a talk last semester by Milo Yiannopoulos before his sudden fall from grace. You may have heard about the violent demonstrations at the University of California at Berkeley last month that led the university authorities to cancel his speech. (The perpetrators of the violence, according to university spokespersons, were not students.) (iii) Just last week students at Middlebury College in Vermont shouted down Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, and prevented him from speaking. (iv)
Such incidents contribute to the widespread perception on the right that universities are bastions of liberal politics, out of step with the views of the electorate. It is true that university faculty on the whole are more liberal than the general population, though it varies by discipline. However, peer-reviewed studies suggest that the consequences to conservative faculty and students of the so-called liberal bias of professors may be exaggerated. (v) Some conservative groups, supported by the Heritage Foundation, are currently engaged in efforts to sponsor legislation to promote campus free-speech bills. (vi) Some of you may have seen reports of an Iowa State Senator who recently introduced a bill that would require the three public universities in that state “to base faculty-hiring decisions on applicants’ political-party affiliations.” (vii)
The remarks of the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to the Conservative Political Action Conference last month have been widely reported. As she told that gathering of conservative activists:
The fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree. (viii)
The accuracy of her characterization of what goes on in classrooms has been widely criticized by faculty and administrations. But her perceptions are widely shared among conservatives. Given the political conflicts that have intensified during the last several years, there could be no better time for Auburn University, as an institution of higher learning, to cultivate free speech, academic freedom, and mutually respectful debate. Following the suggestion of a member of the faculty, the Provost’s Office will be providing resources to launch a forum that would promote intellectual diversity and democracy. The idea is to sponsor over an extended period of time a series of intellectually diverse speakers. The lectures or panels would involve serious scholars, not pundits. It is more important than ever that people who disagree learn to listen to one another and engage in a serious scholarly exchange of views. Dr. Taffye Benson Clayton, our new Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, is facilitating the organization of this initiative, in which I have been invited to participate as Senate chair. We had our first organizational meeting yesterday, and we will be soon be reaching out to the broader university community, especially faculty and students, for ideas and suggestions for how to proceed with this exciting initiative.
Another positive sign of how Auburn University promotes the exercise of free speech and academic freedom is the student initiative to respond to the original Executive Order banning persons from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S. Later during this meeting, Sarah Pitts will provide an update on the situation at Auburn and report on a meeting the students had with administrators last week. Events continue to unfold rapidly, with a new Executive Order being signed just yesterday.
I am of the strong belief that the tenure system in higher education benefits not only the professional interests of faculty members, but the public interest as a whole through the promotion of teaching, research, and outreach, with the goal of pursuing truth, however unpopular it may be at any given time. Yet the public at large has become increasingly skeptical of the professoriate, even if such skepticism is often based on misunderstandings of the work we actually do in the university. Political scientists and sociologists have linked the loss of trust in the professoriate to a larger trend in the rejection of all forms of expertise. (ix) It is not surprising, under these circumstances, that academic tenure has recently begun to face threats unlike anything we have seen since the days of McCarthyism. As many of you will already be aware, academic tenure has been attacked in several state legislatures. In Wisconsin the protections of tenure, once enshrined in the state constitution, have been severely eroded. (x) Legislation has been proposed in two states—Iowa and Missouri—that would end tenure at public universities. The proposal in Iowa, if successful, would take tenure away from professors who had already earned it, whereas the proposed bill in Missouri would lead to no new tenure-track hires. (xi) I think it is only a matter of time before some of these measures succeed, though how such laws might stand up in the courts remains to be seen.
The University of Iowa was sanctioned by the AAUP last year for failing to conform to its own institutional standards in the process that led to the hiring of Mr. Bruce Harreld as its current president. The faculty were effectively shut out from meaningful participation in the hiring process. Mr. Harreld, by the way, came from the business world; his only academic experience was as an adjunct professor. It is encouraging that both the Iowa Board of Regents and the University of Iowa president have spoken out publicly against the proposed legislation to abolish tenure. (xii) President Harreld issued a strong statement on Jan. 13 defending tenure. He understands that academic freedom and tenure are inseparable [he stated]: “Cutting-edge research is by definition frequently uncomfortable as it explores new areas and pushes often well-established boundaries. . . . Freedom to push these boundaries is critical and should never be impeded. This freedom is indispensable to our mission of contributing to the common good through our research, scholarship, and creative endeavor, and to ensuring our students’ freedom to learn.” (xiii) We can only hope that academic freedom and tenure will continue to thrive under the next administration at Auburn University, just as it has under the current one. As faculty we can only hope that the new president, whoever is chosen, will defend academic freedom and tenure before the Board of Trustees, the state government in Montgomery, and the people of Alabama, as tenure faces serious threats in the future, as it almost certainly will. In the meantime, it is incumbent on each member of the faculty to defend academic freedom and to exercise our responsibilities wisely. Thank you for patiently listening to these thoughts on the state of academic freedom this afternoon. When these remarks are posted on the Senate website, they will include links to the sources I have referred to.
i For the 1940 Statement, see https://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure.
ii For the 1966 Statement, see https://www.aaup.org/report/statement-government-colleges-and-universities.
iii See https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/02/02/violent-protests-visiting-mob-lead-berkeley-cancel-speech-milo-yiannopoulos.
iv See https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/03/03/middlebury-students-shout-down-lecture-charles-murray. See also https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/03/06/middlebury-engages-soul-searching-after-speech-shouted-down-and-professor-attacked.
v See https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/02/27/research-confirms-professors-lean-left-questions-assumptions-about-what-means.
vi See https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/02/01/conservative-libertarian-groups-propose-campus-free-speech-bill.
vii See http://www.chronicle.com/article/Iowa-Bill-Would-Force/239261?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en&elqTrackId=39f67400a77845c5908aae8588a785b8&elq=f0374f078077477482148bb0f05742ce&elqaid=12672&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=5184.
viii See https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/02/24/education-secretary-criticizes-professors-telling-students-what-think.
ix See https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-02-13/how-america-lost-faith-expertise?cid=int-now&pgtype=hpg®ion=br1.
x See https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/04/07/u-wisconsin-madison-professors-losing-hope-preserving-traditional-tenure-campus.
xi See https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/01/13/legislation-two-states-seeks-eliminate-tenure-public-higher-education.
xii See https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/01/13/legislation-two-states-seeks-eliminate-tenure-public-higher-education.
xiii Quoted in http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/college/2017/01/23/iowas-public-university-leaders-rally-around-tenure/96958280/.
Are there any questions for the chair? [21:09]
Mike Stern, economics: I was asked by a colleague because we used to do this at the spring meetings, what has happened to the Glenn Howze award?
James Goldstein, chair: For people who are unfamiliar with the reference, the local Chapter of the AAUP used to give an annual academic freedom award, named for former Senate Chair, Glenn Howze. Traditionally those were given in the spring faculty meeting. This is the second year in a row that that hasn’t happened. Unfortunately, I don’t see Robin Jaffe, who is the current president of the Chapter, because I am no longer involved in the Chapter governance or anything like that so I am not on the inside to exactly what the answer to that is. I think in general that the Chapter has been reorganizing and gathering its strength, and we hope, they hope, I am a member of Chapter, I think in the future they hope to be able to bring that back, but for further details on why it hasn’t happened this year you’d have to ask Robin Jaffe.
Mike Stern, economics: Is there a reason it didn’t happen last year?
James Goldstein, chair: I think we would have to ask who ever was the president of the Chapter last year. I think that was Bill Sauser.
Mike Stern, economics: I was just wondering because you, president Gogue, as award winners and many others have been given continuously every year. So I don’t want to see that go away because much of what you speak of, Howze represented. I would hope that we would be continuing that in his honor particular in this endowed award.
You mentioned in your remarks things like speech and tenure and the importance of it for protecting it. In my experience those that required tenure in order to speak their mind have nothing worthwhile to say.
James Goldstein, chair: [chuckle] That can happen.
Mike Stern, economics: That’s just my experience. When I was an untenured faculty member of this institution I remember another untenured faculty member mentioning to me, she said, Michael how can you say the things that you say and to the people that you say them or in the location in which you say them, surely you realize that you are untenured and yet you speak like a tenured faculty member? [24:16]
I would suggest there is a serious problem with an institution if the speech patterns of the tenured faculty are remarkably different from those of the untenured faculty. For it is not tenure that gives us the right to speak, it’s not, it’s the first amendment to the United States Constitution, in terms of a public institution that gives us the right to speak free from recrimination for such speech. So when people bring up tenure and speech I wish they would emphasize more the Constitution of the United States rather than tenure because all of us, tenured and untenured, have the exact same right to speak our mind on issues that are a concern to a public institution.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you. Other questions or comments? In that case we now turn to our information items. The first one is an update on activities and initiatives in the Administrative and Professional Assembly. Tim Jones, chair of the A&P Assembly will be presenting.
Timothy Jones, chair of A&P Assembly: Good afternoon, thank you for having me. Dr. Goldstein and I were talking about creating a synergy between A&P and faculty and staff, so that is part of this update.
With that A&P Assembly is structured very much like the faculty Senate. We have representatives and go through the process of nominating executive members, but with that we also have sub committees. So I will just give you an update on the sub committee activity this year. Professional development: throughout the year they have brown bag luncheons and it’s a good collaborative effort between HR an Tiger Dining to give an opportunity for employees to come together at a discounted lunch, listen through their lunch break and then have those brown bag opportunities to talk about tuition benefits and how that effects them. A lot of times there is a lot of policy out on a Web page, but how does that translate to a specific employee’s situation. So there are people there that can answer those questions. That’s been beneficial and professional development has put that forward.
We also have a Welfare Committee. Just to give an update with that they’ve been working on a hardship fund. That hardship fund is going to be an employee self-funded program. We are still working on the policy still crossing the t’s dotting the i’s, but we are close to having that finished. There is a meeting this Friday to finalize that and prepare it for final approval from upper administration.
Then we have Nominations and Elections Committee, where we are going through the same process you guys are to identify the new individuals. Then a Grievance Committee for the shared governance process if employees have issues then there is a process for them to share those issues and work through the system that way. I don’t know how much FSLA issues affected faculty, I know that were pretty impactful to A&P staff. It was something that sidelined some of our other efforts throughout the fall but it was necessary. So we had the FSLA changes implemented and then rolled back. I don’t know…that is up to the federal level as to whether that is going to come back again, but we worked through those changes. If they come back around we will be more prepared for them in the future, but it prompted a conversation about A&P Assembly combining with Staff Council and getting beyond really that segregation of blue collar versus white collar, exempt versus non-exempt, and having that discussion to have more powerful voices of employees and have better synergy in that regard.
With that talking about synergy, I’ll close with a couple of questions and I realize that in a forum like this you open up for questions it’s either going to be deafening silence or lively debate. My questions are: in regard to A&P Assembly, is there anything we can do as an assembly that helps us work together with faculty (university) Senate? Are there any initiatives you all would like to see us work together on? Then, a follow up to that, I am a project manager for OIT and in the same sense, is there anything from an IT perspective that faculty would like to see OIT in terms of a more proactive effort in certain areas?
So I just wanted to open that up while I had the audience and put those 2 questions out there. If there’s anything that faculty would like to see in terms of A&P or IT initiatives. (silence)
That’s actually the response I had anticipated, but I appreciate it. Thank you for being here today, and certainly thank you for the invite to come and update with A&P.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you Tim. Next we have an update on the student response to the, well originally it was the response to the statement from the administration back at the end of January on the Executive Order, but being an update there might be other fish to fry. Sarah Pitts, an undergraduate in the College of Liberal Arts. [30:17]
Sarah Pitts, College of Liberal Arts: This will be the right height for me [referring to the height of the microphone.].
First of all, thank you for letting me be here today. Thank you for the invitation, Dr. Goldstein, and thank you for letting me speak to you. Like Dr. Goldstein said, I just want to update you. I think that at the last Senate meeting it was mentioned that I wrote a letter to the administration following the executive order on immigration at the end of January. That letter is posted on the site (Senate Web site) so if you don’t know what I am talking about it’s there and you can go and read it. What sparked my interest in writing a letter, I actually had a letter writing campaign where I got so students together and we wrote individually to the administration and to leaders in Alabama is because being a student of Humanities at Auburn I think what I’ve learned here the most is to value humanity itself and I saw what I had learned to become at tension with what I was seeing in the government. So I felt compelled to speak out to my campus, to my university about this. Auburn is an international university. We draw in students with Auburn Global, so they are defined on their Web site as “a program that works to bring the best and brightest students to Auburn University and allows them through academic and social support programs to have a successful experience as new members of the Auburn Family.” So our global and international initiatives have been very important and there’s that to take into consideration that we do have this pull for international students at a time when there sort of is a conflict of how we relate to the international community. And also you may have seen around the middle of February that the Alabama House of Representatives voted to block funding to any campus in Alabama that declared itself a sanctuary, so that’s another complicated thing with the potential for punishment from the state at a land-grant university such as Auburn.
I and some other students were able to meet with Dr.’s Boosinger and Woodard last Thursday and that was really great. We were able to talk over some things that we have had in the letter that wrote that was signed by about 147 students, faculty, and community members; I had asked for a stronger more principled stance because when Auburn released its initial response to the very first executive order I think in a lot of ways it was hard to know what to do. It’s hard for me as a student of the Humanities to know what I can do and what my place is considering my opinions on the matter. But I was assured in this meeting that all Auburn students have the proper documentation and that if they have been admitted to the university that they are here legally and they should be safe.
We entered into a discussion on how we define safety because I think right now there is a lot of uncertainty. The OA News recently released and article that said that Alabama has the highest rate of ICE raids of any state in the nation. So I think that being close to campus, I hear about them happening in Opelika and our surrounding communities, I think that creates fear among students who are uncertain of their situations even if they are documented and legal because Alabama has a history of being very harsh toward immigration with HB56, the harshest immigration law that the country has ever seen. So that kind of breeds anti-immigrant sentiment whether they are legal or not, whether we consider them documented or not. When HB56 was released earlier in the 2000s, around 2010, we saw legal immigrants fleeing the state as well and it creates fear.
I do understand that Auburn is a land-grant university with responsibility to its Trustees and I understand that the Auburn administration does need to comply with the law and that to take a stance at Auburn that contradicts the law raises a red flag, perhaps does the opposite of making those students feel more secure, so now after my meeting with Provost Boosinger and Vice President Woodard I think that myself and the students who were involved in writing the letter can better understand Auburn’s position. I also want to say that I read the statement from the recent executive order from yesterday and wanted to say the I really appreciated the specificity of the language and thought that was what we had asked for. And I am really grateful that you listened to the students and that we were heard and you didn’t necessarily have to take a political stance in order to be more specific toward the students who were affected. There was a link to a statement by land-grant universities that said, “Our nation must be careful to send the right messages about our values or risk endangering much of what makes this country so special. As the administration continues to review its policies it must keep in mind that this order will be seen abroad as adding additional uncertainty about how welcoming the U.S. is to foreign students and scholars.” This statement also included a specific phone number to call and a Foy office to go to. I thought that was great and other students that I’ve talked to were really grateful for the specificity of that statement.
There was also a recent act of vandalism against an international student who attends Auburn. This in my mind is a manifestation of anti-immigration sentiment that tends to go along with the cracking down on perceived illegal immigration. I’ve been told the university is aware of this and actually met with the student last night and I got to hear their perspective. They feel very welcome at Auburn in general because I think that the Auburn Family is strong and it cares about all members of its family, but in these instances even if just for a second students can feel frightened that there will be physical manifestations of potential looming threats…the word ARAB was painted on the side of a student’s apartment with angry eyes over it. So just the implication is one of a threat, but I am very grateful for the administration in what they are doing and recognize that perhaps the best thing to do in this instance is not to raise any sort of red flag and recognize that my personal political views don’t reflect the university as a whole. And I am glad that I’ve been heard.
I just want to finish up with, I wanted to update you all if you heard about the letter writing campaing, if you heard about my letter or the student response to the immigration ban. I want to finish by reading one letter that was written during my letter writing campaign. It was written not by myself but by a fellow Auburn student and it was written to congressman Mike Rodgers. So if you will just indulge me.
Mr. Rodgers, [38:00] I am writing to you now as a concerned constituent. As a young man with a profound love and loyalty to our beautiful state and country. I am excited to say that the last few month’s events have awakened a spirit of political participation in young people across the country, especially among my peers at universities across Alabama. Even in the trenches of bipartisan political warfare I believe that it is of paramount importance to consider what values we consider to be essentially and uncompromisingly sound in our personal and national philosophy. It is my conviction, one that I trust that you share, that it is the responsibility of each and every American to care for his fellow man and to share in personal love and faith with his brothers and sisters. This includes of course protecting our families and compatriots within our boarders, but such an obligation cannot be constrained by political lines on any map. Our interest in the life and livelihood of our neighbors is not predicated upon any national, racial, or religious identity, but only upon love and compassion among citizens of this world.
I call on you in earnest desperation appealing to our shared love of our people to act with conviction and sincerity. Please use you political power to sow the seeds of faith rather than fear. Our nation needs clear voices in opposition to distrust and hatred. It is our obligation to believe in the better angels of our human nature and to accept the impossible burden of forgiveness. Please, Mr. Rodgers, find it in yourself to resist fear and promote healing.
Thank you. (applause)
James Goldstein, chair: Finally we have the announcement of the results of the Senate election. I give you Dan Svyantek, the Senate chair-elect, who will receive the gavel in June.
Dan Svyantek, Senate chair-elect: I would like first to thank the nominating committee, the work of the nominating committee and the chair of the committee, Laura Plexico for creating another excellent slate of candidates. I’d also like to assure you I have not seen the winners yet and Ping, who counted the votes, has assured me that the winner is not “La La Land.” [laughter]
For the Senate Chair-elect, Michael Baginski. For the Senate Secretary-elect, Beverly Marshall. Are Michael or Beverly here? Okay, Michael is back there. Congratulations. (applause) Thank you.
James Goldstein, chair: That concludes the agenda. Is there any unfinished business? Is there any new business? In that case, we are adjourned until the fall. Because we are not the Senate. [41:14]
For the 1966 Statement, see https://www.aaup.org/report/statement-government-colleges-and-universities.
See https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/03/03/middlebury-students-shout-down-lecture-charles-murray. See also https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/03/06/middlebury-engages-soul-searching-after-speech-shouted-down-and-professor-attacked.