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Thursday, June 13
The Indiana Daily Student

campus administration

UPDATE: IU faculty, schools respond to Dunn Meadow arrests

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After IU Police Department and Indiana State Police officers arrested 56 protesters Thursday and Saturday at pro-Palestinian encampments in Dunn Meadow, IU faculty and schools have released statements addressing about IU and ISP’s response. 

President of the Bloomington Faculty Council 

Bloomington Faculty Council President Colin R. Johnson released an open letter Monday calling for IU President Pamela Whitten’s resignation or removal.  

The letter comes after a protest Monday with hundreds of faculty, graduate workers and community members outside Bryan Hall calling for Whitten and Provost Rahul Shrivastav’s resignations. 

Johnson wrote in his letter that Whitten has used some provisions of the 1969 policy for the use of IU assembly ground but ignored certain other provisions within the policy.  

Specifically, Johnson wrote that the events of the past week are not reconcilable with a provision that said the university should not use physical force to enforce rules against unapproved structures and overnight camping at Dunn Meadow. 

“In cases of non-compliance, the University should use the legal process to enforce its legal rights,” the policy reads. 

“That physical force was used as a first resort, on the very first day of the protest, rather than a last resort, constitutes an even greater affront to that wisdom,” Johnson’s letter reads. 

The letter makes a specific argument for Whitten’s resignation or removal “that is likely to be more persuasive to the people who are best positioned to respond to it.” According to Whitten’s contract, which was obtained by Indiana Public Media, the Board of Trustees has the power to end her employment. 

The specific argument broadly says that it will be impossible for students, faculty and staff to look past the events of the past week or the “frustrating and dispiriting events of the past three years” and continue the normal functions of the university. 

“President Whitten has clearly become a liability to Indiana University,” the letter reads. 

The letter says that Whitten damaged the university’s reputation through constant controversy and through violating its foundational principles.  

IU Bloomington faculty overwhelmingly voted in favor of a no confidence motion for Whitten, Provost Rahul Shrivastav and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Carrie Docherty on April 16. 

However, Johnson writes that in the past few days, faculty members have become more outraged than ever. He argues that Whitten’s tainted reputation damages the entire organization’s credibility and reputation. 

“And it is a reputation that is currently being trod upon and damaged in the most distressing and abhorrent ways,” the letter reads. He ends the letter, “the time has come for the Whitten administration to end.” 

IU Bloomington faculty 

Some IU Bloomington faculty wrote a letter Sunday to the IU Board of Trustees, IU alumni and concerned citizens of Indiana. They also formed a petition demanding the immediate resignation or termination of Whitten and Shrivastav. The petition had 834 signatures Monday evening. 

“As faculty members of Indiana University Bloomington, we are appalled and ashamed by the militarized response to the peaceful campus protests against Israel’s war in Gaza,” the beginning of the letter reads. “Many of us have been direct witnesses as Indiana State Police brutalized and arrested unarmed students and fellow faculty colleagues holding an entirely peaceful rally on Dunn Meadow.”  

An ad hoc committee decided Wednesday night, the night before the protests began, to prohibit temporary or permanent structures on campus without advanced approval, altering a 1969 policy that allows for the use of temporary structures in Dunn Meadow without prior approval, forbidding them from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.   

An ad hoc committee is a temporary committee designed for a specific purpose.   

The faculty wrote that the policy change “was clearly done to disadvantage and discriminate against a group based on their viewpoint, violating well-established First Amendment law.”  

This show of faculty dissonance from Whitten and Shrivastav’s decisions is the latest in a string of what faculty called in the petition “shameful display” of their “ineptitude and lack of moral compass” and follows the vote of no-confidence that passed with 93% support from 900 faculty members.  

English department 

In a Canvas message Thursday to English students, Nikki Skillman, director of undergraduate studies for the Department of English, expressed concern at the “violent arrest” and campus ban for protesters. 

“We are committed to your safety, and we want you to know you are supported by English faculty in exercising your right to peaceful, non-hateful protest,” the message read. 

Skillman said any English student who does not hear a response to their ban appeal from IUPD should contact her so they can find an alternative method to complete the semester. 

Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering 

Seven Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering faculty members, including Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Paul Macklin and Associate Dean for Graduate Education Apu Kapadia, signed an email expressing similar concern at the “rough arrest” and ban of protesters from campus and resources for banned students. 

“We are committed to your safety, and we want you to know you are supported at the Luddy School,” the email read. 

Luddy Dean Joanna Millunchick sent another email Sunday stating she, along with all other IU deans, are communicating with IU leadership regularly and asking them to “deescalate the tensions at Dunn Meadow.” 

Media School faculty 

IU Media School faculty overwhelmingly condemned IU’s response to protests in an open letter Sunday, joining several other departments and schools in calling out the use of force against students. 

“The administration has crossed a red line by choosing an authoritarian stance that is antithetical to the mission of an institution of higher learning,” the letter reads.  

The letter also mentions that at least one Media School student is among those injured by police as they pushed against crowds and dragged protesters out to be arrested.  

Protesters have camped out in Dunn Meadow before, the letter explains, but IU’s reaction is a first “in recent memory.”  

The letter touches on multiple university actions of the past few days and details how the action has violated IU’s most “cherished values.” The banning of students and faculty from campus is a violation of their due process rights, the letter said, while the last-minute policy change banning tents the day before the protest violates the principles of shared governance and may qualify as unconstitutional content discrimination, risking financial loss for the administration as those affected file lawsuits.   

“As a faculty expressly charged with teaching our students about these values in the pursuit of journalism and other expressions of public communication, we strongly dissent from these anti-democratic acts,” the letter read. “How can we instill respect for core principles of democratic life when our own administration fails to live up to them?”  

The letter specifically called for an end to police action and surveillance, an apology to and reinstatement of students and faculty who were banned from campus and restore the previous campus policy governing protests in Dunn Meadow. It also recommends an investigation into potential violations of faculty governance, academic freedom, freedom of expression and due process by the Bloomington Faculty Council so those responsible can be held accountable.   

“It is critical that we expose the root of this shameful chapter in IU’s history,” it read. 

Media School administrators 

Media School Dean David Tolchinsky and Associate Dean Radhika Parameswaran sent an email to faculty, staff and graduate students, expressing gratitude for student media and The Arnolt Center for Investigative Journalists on Sunday. They also wrote to support “scholars of media and creators of media.”  

“We are actively engaging in discussions with central administration to ensure that our values of free expression and peaceful demonstration are not only upheld but also respected,” the email read.  

Due to the emotional toll the past few days of protests have taken on students, they requested faculty be flexible with assignments and exams during the end of this semester. 

O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs 

Professor of law and public affairs Paul Helmke reported on X, formerly Twitter, that the Paul O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs faculty voted 56-1 to oppose the policy put into place by an ad hoc committee April 24, with three members abstaining. They also voted 45-3 that students, staff and faculty who were banned after being arrested should be allowed back on campus, with six abstaining. 

The vote came after discussion at the O’Neill faculty and staff faculty meeting. Votes were open until midnight, according to an O’Neill school email. 

Helmke was student body president in 1969, when the original policy around assembly in Dunn Meadow was put into place. He remembers over 8,000 people protesting in Dunn Meadow, he said, but they never saw police respond like this.

O’Neill School Dean Sian Mooney sent an email Monday to students with mental health resources. 

The email also said the dean’s office would hold office hours if students wished to share feedback about the last few days. Mooney also wrote students can provide signed or anonymous feedback to iuoneill@iu.edu. The feedback will be shared with IU leadership, she wrote. 

College of Arts and Sciences 

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Rick Van Kooten wrote an email to College faculty and staff Friday expressing “profound concern” about students and faculty arrested Thursday. 

“As many of you are aware, those charged with criminal trespass are banned from campus for a period of time, though there is an appeal process,” the email read. “I have been in touch with both of our faculty members who were arrested to offer my support. Last night and this morning I also communicated my deep concern to IU leadership.” 

 He said he will be convening a meeting of the College’s Chairs and Directors early this week to discuss the topic further. 

Kooten sent a second statement via email Sunday to college faculty, graduate students and staff regarding the arrests in Dunn Meadow. 

“Many of us are struggling to determine how we can best support our students, faculty, and staff at this time – including our students and faculty who have been arrested,” the statement read. “This has been a stressful time for many in the College and on the Bloomington campus, myself included.” 

He urged faculty and graduate instructors to take students’ mental and emotional well-being into account as final exams week begins. 

Additionally, Van Kooten included information about how to appeal a campus ban, which he said was shared by the university. 

He said students who received a campus ban can reach out to instructors about alternatives to taking in-person final exams, but it is up to each instructor whether they provide an alternative. 

Van Kooten also said members of the College can access mental health resources, including Timely Care, Counseling and Psychological Services, student advocates and the Student Care and Resource Center. 

College of Arts and Sciences faculty

The College Policy Committee held a 24-hour vote Tuesday for all faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences. 911 of the college’s 1209 faculty participated in the vote. The results were released in an email to faculty from CPC chair Brian Yanites on Wednesday. 

92.1% voted to repeal the policy banning the use of temporary structures without prior approval in Dunn Meadow adopted April 24, one day before the beginning of the encampment. 839 voted yes, 38 voted no and 34 abstained. 

93.4% called for the Board of Trustees to immediately repeal the campus bans on protesters who were arrested April 25 and 27. 851 voted yes, 35 voted no and 25 abstained. 

86% called for the Board of Trustees to fire IU President Whitten and Provost Rahul Shrivastav. 783 voted yes, 54 voted no and 73 abstained. 

Sidney and Lois Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design 

Tianrui Ma, director of inclusion, diversity, equity and access at the Eskenazi school, shared the same mental health resources and information about ban appeals as the College in an email Sunday. 

Jacobs School of Music 

A message sent by Bicentennial Dean Abra K. Bush at the Jacobs School of Music also extended support to students protesting. It encouraged students who need help to reach out and provided multiple contact points to do so. 

“We are writing to affirm to you that we support the rights of students, faculty, and staff to engage in peaceful, non-disruptive protest,” the email said.  

The email also provided links to care resources for both faculty and students, reiterating their commitment to mental health. 

“More than anything, we are committed to making sure all members of our community are receiving the support they need to finish the semester successfully,” it read. 

IU Bloomington Staff Council

Alison Sinadinos, president of the IU Bloomington Staff Council, wrote an email to staff sharing the council’s concerns about “the events of the past week and the effect its having on our campus community.” 

She wrote that the council will be collecting staff feedback, which can be anonymous, through an online form to share with campus leaders. 

She also linked to mental health resources. 

IU Bloomington Library Faculty

IU Bloomington Library Faculty overwhelmingly affirmed the right to peaceful protest and condemned the use of “violence and excessive force” against protesters in Dunn Meadow, including many IU students, faculty and staff, in a vote Tuesday.  

They also voted to reverse IU’s change to the 1969 policy designating Dunn Meadow as an assembly ground to the original version, which allowed temporary structures in Dunn Meadow without prior approval and recommended against the use of force when protests are not compliant with university policy. Library faculty also overwhelmingly voted to allow faculty, students and staff who were banned from campus to be allowed back immediately and have their charges dropped and disciplinary records expunged.  

Finally, library faculty called for the immediate resignations of Whitten and Shrivastav in a 73-2 vote with seven abstentions, citing the administrators’ “encroachment on the right to free speech; their undermining of peaceful protest; their endangerment of students, staff and faculty; and their abuse of the powers of their offices.”  

All votes passed with just one or two “no” votes. 

UPDATE: This story has been updated with statements from O'Neill School Dean Sian Mooney, IU Bloomington Staff Council President Alison Sinadinos, the results of the IU Bloomington Library Faculty's April 30 vote and the results of the College of Arts and Sciences College Policy Committee faculty vote May 1.

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