Faculty – stop infighting and work together for voice


Editorial Board

The issue:Some faculty want to change the Academic Senate into a faculty senate. They believe faculty don’t have a strong voice on-campus.

Our view:Faculty need to work together to promote change. That won’t happen by restructuring the Academic Senate. Now, it’s just a mess.

Some faculty members want to change the Academic Senate. Why should anyone care?

The changes, which would radically change the purpose and makeup of the body, have much to say about SDSU faculty members.

What could have been a productive discussion about the role of faculty on this campus has spiraled into an academic gunslinger’s paradise of claims and counterclaims, points and counterpoints.

Some faculty members have a beef with the leadership of the Academic Senate. They don’t like how those senators wield their power. They feel the leadership is inefficient, or domineering.

Other faculty members feel that academic senators are apathetic. They’re lazy, don’t care about issues.

Still other faculty members feel their voices are squashed by a strong administration and South Dakota Board of Regents. And they feel that if they were to say anything controversial, they could lose their jobs. Some faculty members don’t like the “student as a consumer” university model.

All these issues are worth an honest discussion. But like this?

If some faculty members feel the need for a united faculty voice, they should first work to build a base of support. That’s not done by infighting or polarizing statements. That’s not done by academic senators nit-picking through their meeting agenda, only to run for the exits at 5 p.m. That’s not done by pushing changes to revamp the Academic Senate without a real discussion about the underlying issues.

Face it. A revamped Academic Senate or a new faculty senate won’t be any different from the body that already exists. Any new body will simply provide a new forum for useless bickering and the boring but occasionally necessary rubber-stamping of decisions already made.

That’s not a united voice. And that’s not unified leadership.

You can kick students and administrators away from the table. But you can’t kick them out of the room. It’s a public meeting. The press could still be there. Just because an administrator isn’t in the room doesn’t mean they don’t have ears.

If administrators are so evil that their very presence has a chilling effect on honest discussion, then the battle for academic freedom has already been lost.

Faculty members were able to build some consensus on the proposed amendments. That’s great. Now they should use those skills to do something that will actually better the lives and career of faculty members.