You may have heard news about IU’s strategic plan for the next five years. You may have read that it’s being headed by Provost Lauren Robel, and “developed by 167 faculty members and staff serving on 11 committees,” according to Steve Hinnefeld on the University website.
You may also think that the plan expresses the common vision of the campus community for academic excellence, and that it’s now the task of the Provost and the rest of the University administration to devote themselves to making this vision real.
But if you also think that means the principles and processes of faculty governance are alive and well at IU, you’ve been
The vehicle for faculty governance at IU is the Bloomington Faculty Council. Under the Constitutions of the University and Bloomington Faculties, the Faculty Council has legislative authority to determine the academic mission of the campus and must be consulted about campus facilities, budgets, athletics and anything else affecting the academic mission of the University.
To say the least, that authority has been undermined and appropriated by the University’s administration in recent years.
Many of the IU faculty are concerned with the erosion of faculty participation in University governance.
Faculty at IU and nationwide are experiencing a loss of authority in areas where we traditionally had a voice: the determination of educational goals; the allocation of resources for facilities, research and tuition; and the initiation of recommendations for academic reorganization and improvement.
In 2010 President Michael McRobbie called for revitalizing “shared governance” at IU.
But what could those words mean when at the same time, he asserted that “at broader organizational levels ... universities must often respond to important external constituencies with a rapidity and unity of voice that is more compatible with corporate and governmental organizations than with universities.”
As if corporations and governmental organizations are the best bodies at realizing the common visions of communities.
Some of us are so concerned about the erosion of faculty governance that we’re standing as a slate in the BFC elections that are currently open.
We have a loose set of aims on which we agree: faculty definition of research, teaching and service standards; substantive consultation with faculty on decisions about critical institutional matters (such as graduate programs and support, department mergers, committee appointments, long-range planning and privatization of services); a real and ongoing commitment to attract and retain African-American, Latino and other underrepresented minority faculty; consultation with faculty on investments in pedagogical and curricular technology with the aim of furthering excellence in teaching; fair labor practices for all IU employees including non-tenure track instructors and all staff; and meaningful consultation with faculty about expenditures on and the distribution of profits from athletics.
You can’t expect a bunch of faculty to agree about much, but the main goal on which we concur is the renewal of an intellectually rich culture of
This culture is above all one of open, public, collaborative and democratic reasoning. It’s the process through which scholarship develops and progresses, leading to innovation and shared ideas.
If a proposal for reorganizing the academic structure, or changing pedagogic practice, or connecting between the University and the community is a good idea, it will pass this test of public scrutiny, win broad support and make common sense.
That’s what the BFC is for, and that’s what we aim to have the BFC do again.
Jon Simons is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University
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I have always had a special affinity for art in places where art “isn’t supposed to be.” Certainly, most of us enjoy an afternoon browsing a gallery or museum, but there is something really nice about finding art in unexpected places.
I was pleased to see Matthew Cinkoske's recent column about domestic violence at IU — "Is IU mishandling student domestic violence?" June 14, 2015.
I would like to bring to the attention of the IDS the fact that harassment of disabled students occurs regularly at IU Bloomington. I personally know of physically impaired students who have been harassed in Ballantine Hall for taking the elevator up or down one floor. And they aren’t just harassed by fellow students; faculty and staff are guilty, too. Just because someone looks healthy, doesn’t mean that they are. Invisible disabilities are any of a number of chronic conditions that significantly impair normal activities of daily living while showing no outward signs of the illness. I also know of a physically impaired student who was made fun of recently for riding a scooter in Forest Residence Center. This is a student who can barely walk—and only for short distances—and only when feeling physically up to it. This same student was also harassed in the Forest parking lot by someone who didn’t think a handicap parking space should be used by a disabled student, even though the appropriate IU parking permit was displayed in the car. Harassment may be reported to the IU Incident Teams at (812) 855-8188 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I mention these incidents because they happened to students I know. And if they can happen to them, they can happen to anyone. I ask the entire campus community: How would you feel if someone you cared about was ridiculed or harassed because they had a disability? How does it feel to learn that members of the campus community, whether you know them or not, have to deal with harassment at IU Bloomington on a daily basis? I urge us all to think before speaking, show some Hoosier compassion, and offer to help instead of contributing to an intolerant environment. I also urge the IDS to investigate and report on the harassment of disabled students on this campus. As an IU alumna, IU employee, and IU parent, I hate to think of Indiana University’s reputation being tarnished by charges of harassment of any kind. Melissa Thorne Bloomington