UW Senate Operates Like the Soviet Duma

SMS thumb CezanneWhy doesn’t the UW faculty understand that democracy requires open discussion?

This AM I received the following email that made me quite angry.
The message:
Voting Faculty,
At its meeting on December 5, 2013, the Faculty Senate approved legislation that revises the Faculty Code on principles of academic freedom and responsibility. These changes, which would amend the Faculty Code, have been approved twice by a majority at both the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the Faculty Senate. The Faculty Council on Faculty Affairs (FCFA) developed and approved this legislation.
Please vote by January 8th, 2014 at 5 p.m.  Please note: According to the Faculty Code, Faculty currently on leave are ineligible to vote.
Sincerely, Marcia Killien Secretary of the Faculty
To take the survey, click the link below or copy and paste the URL into the address bar of your Web browser. survey will become unavailable on 1/08/2014 at  5:00 PM PT. If you have questions or problems, or do not want to receive email messages about this survey, please contact the survey owner by replying to this email message.

I went to Catalyst, the UW voting site,  to see what I was supposed to vote on.There is NO information there, NO links, no Pro positions, no Anti positions …. NADA!This is NOT democracy. If the Faculty Senate were a democratic institution, there would have been a public debate on an open forum, using the web much as the founders of the US used their media. Imagine the Constitution without the Federalist Papers!I assume most folks on this list know that I founded THE-Ave.US off campus in a effort to provide free speech without the limitations of speech this campus practices.  THE Ave was not my first choice.  I tried very hard to get the Senate to create an open site where opposing opinions could be discussed.  I failed.

Only a few UW faculty post here. That is sad, though a few hundred faculty do read this site,  More post on campus on a listserv run by the AAUP behind a firewall limited to people with access to the campus emails system and to those who choose to get the emails.  The AAUP listserv is pretty good, but like similar publications in China, practices a form of self censorship that limits free speech.  Moreover, as an email server, messages scroll so the kind of discussion possible on THE Ave can not occur.

I hope this legislation is good.  The Senate should have adamant positions on how the UW is governed, especially given the abuses of governance shown by the Aprikyan case.  Whatever is in this legislation I  can not vote because I have NO IDEA what is in this legislation.  I am sure the same is true of most faculty, especially coming at a time of year when UW faculty, like most Americans, are more likely to be going to holiday parties than trying to search their email for some post that tells them what this legislation is about.

I will make a prediction: this vote will be meaningless, will have no more effect on UW governance than some noble sounding legislation issued by the politburo on behalf “of the people.” 


* If my subject line offends those of you who are Senators, I apologize.  I will, however remind you, that Lenin and Stalin constructed the Duma, Russia’s parliament,  to appear democratic while using State control of the media to assure that the USSR was not democratic.

Much the same practice happens in China, except that today China has some semblance of an open press … a lot of it because of the web.   Free Speech is likely more effective in influencing the Chinese politburo that it is in influencing policy at the UW!



— Stephen M. Schwartz Pathology ———————–

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