Update with text as passed by the UO Senate:
After a full, frank, and extended discussion led by Senate President Sinclair (Math) – with UO President Schill, Provost Banavar, and many UO Collective students present – the Senate voted 23-21 today to pass a revised version of US17/18-02: RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT THE UO STUDENT COLLECTIVE. This resolution was regarding disciplinary charges for Student Conduct Code violations brought by the administration against students who had protested at, and disrupted, President Schill’s October 6th State of the University Address.
This resolution had been presented to the Senate and posted on its website for review two weeks ago. Yesterday afternoon President Schill and Provost Banavar sent a letter to the Senate responding to it. The UO Student collective took this response to heart, in part, and redrafted their motion last night and this morning, taking out some of the parts the President and Provost found objectionable and making general edits and explanation. The Senate received that revision shortly before the meeting today.
The revised resolution was considered under a suspension of the normal rules, given the fact that time was of the essence, since the Student Conduct Office had given the students charged with disciplinary violations a firm deadline of December 8th to decide on how to respond to the charges, the students had exams, and that the next Senate meeting was not until January.
After voting to suspend the rules with the required 2/3 majority, a motion was then made to divide the resolution, separating the parts on the student conduct process from the parts asking the administration to condemn speech by white supremacists. This passed with considerable support.
The Senate then spent about 30 minutes discussing the student conduct part of the resolution. The resolution was read out in its entirety twice – once before division, and once after.
Some Senators urged the Senate to delay, arguing that this was too little time to consider. Others argued that the students had been given a deadline and the Senate needed to act today.
Provost Banavar asked the students if they would be satisfied if the administration would extend the Dec 8th deadline. The students asked if the Provost could promise such an extension. He said he could not.
Senate VP Harbaugh (me) relayed that he had just been told by the Dean of Students that the Student Conduct Office had failed to make recordings or verbatim transcripts of the student conduct hearings held so far (and had prevented the students from making recordings), despite that fact that verbatim transcripts were required for appeals of conduct violations. Whoops.
The Senate extended the time for debate several times. One OA Senator said that the OA’s would feel that passing the resolution would be taken as an attack on the OA’s who have the difficult job of enforcing student conduct code violations. This was received with respect.
One Senator, from the law school, argued for delay and more deliberation, until next quarter. This same Senator had been on the UO Board of Trustees as its sole faculty member when they passed their 2014 motion taking authority for Student Conduct away from the faculty. At the time she raised no objection with the board that the Trustees were given that motion only shortly before their meeting, and she did not even bother to inform the faculty or the students that the motion was coming. The Greeks had a word for this: hypocrisy.
One Senator raised the point that the motion could be taken as supporting students rights to disrupt classrooms. This did not get a lot of resonance with the faculty, who are quite experienced at turning student disruptions into teachable moments. Many of us even enjoy it. Here’s hoping VP Kyle Henley and the administration’s PR machine do not decide to give Duck spokesman Tobin Klinger instructions to go to the press with that canard.
At 4:56 the vote was called, and the motion passed 23-21. Here’s the final text as passed, absent footnotes. It should all be on the Senate website Th AM:
US17/18-02: RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT THE UO STUDENT COLLECTIVE
1.1 WHEREAS the Mission Statement of the University of Oregon states:
“We value our diversity and seek to foster equity and inclusion in a welcoming, safe, and respectful community”; and
1.2 WHEREAS the UO Policy on Free Inquiry and Speech states
“Free speech is central to the academic mission and is the central tenet of a free and democratic society.” [Emphasis added];
“The University supports free speech with vigor, including the right of presenters to offer opinion, the right of the audience to hear what is presented, and the right of protesters to engage with speakers in order to challenge ideas, so long as the protest does not disrupt or stifle the free exchange of ideas. It is the responsibility of speakers, listeners and all members of our community to respect others and to promote a culture of mutual inquiry throughout the University community.”; and
1.3 WHEREAS UO students have approached the UO administration with their concerns about UO policies and US policies that affect their well-being, safety, and academic success; and
1.4 WHEREAS the preamble of the Student Conduct Code reads:
“The primary mission of the Student Conduct Code is to set forth the community standards and procedures necessary to maintain and protect an environment conducive to learning and in keeping with the educational objectives of the University of Oregon. Founded upon the principle of freedom of thought and expression, an environment conducive to learning is one that preserves the freedom to learn — where academic standards are strictly upheld and where the rights, safety, dignity and worth of every individual are respected.” [Emphasis added]; and
1.5 WHEREAS overzealous disciplinary action against students may result in the repression of dissent and free speech and continues to harm these students’ academic success; and
1.6 WHEREAS UO officials have made public statements that may prejudice the adjudication of the alleged conduct code violations; and
1.7 WHEREAS the UO Policy on Academic Freedom says
“Members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance.”
“These freedoms derive immediately from the university’s basic commitment to advancing knowledge and understanding. The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. Only serious abuses of this policy – ones that rise to the level of professional misbehavior or professional incompetence – should lead to adverse consequences. Any such determinations shall be made in accordance with established, formal procedures involving judgment by relevant peers.”
and yet despite this requirement, relevant peers have not been involved in this conduct code judgement process.
2.1 BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the UO Senate supports the rights of students to peacefully protest during university events, even disruptively, so long as those protests do not prevent speakers from being heard and the audience from hearing what they have to say; and
2.2 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate recognizes that the students involved in the protest at the State of the University Address succeeded in bringing significant matters of academic concern and student well-being to the attention of the university community, and that we urge that this be taken into consideration when judging their discipline cases; and
2.3 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate calls on the the Student Conduct Code and Community Standards Committee to ensure that the Student Conduct Code is revised to include student peers in judgements on disciplinary cases involving free speech, as required by the Policy on Academic Freedom. Given the importance of free speech and academic freedom, the Senate urges the Committee to develop Student Conduct Code procedures distinct from standard discipline charges; and
2.4 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the UO Senate urges the administration to cease the Student Conduct disciplinary charges process and pledges to support student protesters during the disciplinary appeals process; and
2.5 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate supports the conversations the administration has now initiated with the UO Student Collective and that the Senate will continue to provide a forum for all students.
Having spent more than the expected time on the discussion and debate of this resolution, the Senate then adjourned, putting off the remainder of the agenda until January.