Today my Dad, a professor at Oregon State in the Forest Science Department and former President of the OSU Faculty Senate, sent me a copy of a letter he sent to the editors of The Wall Street Journal and The Barometer. I have to agree with him (note: we often disagree politically), the OSU Faculty Senate grossly overstepped their bounds by issuing a statement that they oppose war with Iraq. What's disturbing is the way in which they came to the conclusion that the faculty of OSU objected to war:
"...the OSU Faculty Senate has 132 voting members (Article V Sec 1). The vote included only 62 members and some 40+ of those voted for the resolution. This is a meager one-third of the OSU Faculty Senate. Under NO stretch of the imagination could this vote be considered "representative" of the entire faculty at OSU, regardless of the by-laws of the Faculty Senate. ...it is highly disturbing that the vote came close to or after 5 o'clock when the meeting normally adjourns. ...in more honorable times it was the practice of the OSU Faculty Senate to give such issues a rest until the next meeting, giving everyone on campus a chance to dialogue about an issue, then meet under more reasoned circumstances to vote. There seems to have been a premeditated purposeful rush-to-judgement reason for ignoring that "rule" since war might occur any minute. No one has gone to war and the United Nations still seems to hold all of the big cards. Any one of the above events does not seem like much in and of itself, but taken together there appears to have been the "high jacking" of the OSU Faculty Senate by select members of the Faculty Senate itself! Votes like this do NOT get rammed through without a tremendous amount of help from some group privy to the inner workings."
I had the following comments to make on the subject:
In the case of the faculty senate, theyâ€™re using the war to â€œtest the boundsâ€� of their legal system in pushing through issues like this one. They may not be consciously aware of it, but as you elude to in your letter, they may use this new flexible boundary again in the future on something that actually does matter.
I hope [Dad] youâ€™re not taking the â€œopinion of the faculty senateâ€� too seriously. I donâ€™t think it holds any weight anywhere outside of OSU campusâ€¦ Everybody (should) know that itâ€™s not their place to state an opinion on such a thing anyways. If a few faculty want to get together and state that they oppose the war, thatâ€™s great, more power to them, but they canâ€™t say they represent the interests of the entire faculty. People should know that.