The University Senate voted unanimously on Friday to postpone for the second time its vote on the Report on Academic Freedom, pushing it to the Senate’s next meeting on Dec. 8.
Last month, the Faculty Affairs, Academic Freedom, and Tenure Committee proposed the Report on Academic Freedom to affirm the Senate’s commitment to freedom of discourse in response to increased debate about free speech on campus after talks by white supremacists Tommy Robinson and Mike Cernovich.
The proposed report approves of freedom of speech in “academic settings,” including in the classroom and at University-sponsored events, as long as the speech isn’t abusive or intimidating. Last month, the vote on approval of the report stalled after students raised concerns that the term “academic settings” was too vague and might be interpreted to apply to areas outside the classroom.
Co-chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee Professor Letty Moss-Salentijn said that the committee is still working in conjunction with the Student Affairs Committee to accommodate all opinions on academic freedom in the report.
“There are still some remaining issues. We are close, we are really trying to get every viewpoint included in the final document, but we are not there yet,” Moss-Salentijn said.
In addition to the vote on academic freedom, the Student Affairs Committee updated the Senate on its plans to create an open student lounge in Lerner Hall as part of its effort to improve community building on campus.
Co-chair of the SAC Josh Schenk, CC ’19, reiterated the Student Affairs Committee’s plans to remodel Lerner to create a central student lounge. Schenk said that the committee had designated? selected? architects to develop plans for converting the second-level reservable spaces into open areas for recreation.
The committee is working with Campus Services and Undergraduate Student Life administrators to fund proposals that call for the creation of two reservable spaces for student organizations on the third floor where the current computer lab is currently located. The computer lab would be redesigned and moved to the fourth floor.
The Senate meeting also featured a tribute to Ron Breslow, a chemistry professor and longtime University senator. Dr. Richard Smiley, who worked as a graduate student under Breslow in the 1970s, called Breslow his hero.
“My opinion of Ron Breslow did not change over 40 years. He was a great scientist, a great man, and a great friend,” Smiley said.
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