Friday, July 07, 2006

Chair of UCI Academic Senate puts out a statement

I received this from someone and thought it would be good to post it. Apparently the UCI Academic Senate (the UCI faculty senate) has NO clue what to do to remove the widespread problem of anti-Semitism on campus, other than hope that the UCI Difficult Dialogues project will calm things down.

UCI Difficult Dialogues is about complete - by the looks of it, there is only one event left for Fall 2006, and it's still TBD. I hope to G-d that it's had a significantly positive effect on the campus. Here's my yardstick to know if UCI has changed dramatically for the better:

I'll compare the number of times we see an anti-Semite visit campus this coming school year (2006-2007) vs. the past few years (2003-2004, 2004-2005, and 2005-2006). 2005-2006 was almost weekly.

A dramatic change in quantity would be if we only saw an anti-Semite once the entire school year and there was NO anti-Zionism week. Under this yardstick, this dramatic change wouldn't be a complete fix, but would be a good start.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Free Speech and Campus Civility
Date: Thu, 18 May 2006 09:33:29 -0700
From: Academic Senate
To: as00@UCI.EDU

Dear Colleagues:

Several of you have written to me asking what the Senate can do to reinforce Chancellors leadership with regard for speaking out for free but civil speech on campus. The first thing we can do is thank Chancellor Drake for his leadership, and I would like to also thank Vice Chancellor Gomez and the many other leadership and staff members who have worked hard behind the scenes to help the campus maintain a safe and civil atmosphere while strongly supporting free speech rights.

As Senate members and educators we also have a responsibility to do our part. I urge you to use your contact time with students to discuss issues of free speech and responsibility. A sad byproduct of the current political tensions is that some of us simply chose to avoid political discussions in order to avoid conflict. This may be especially true for those of us with moderate voices, who don't want to get caught up in difficult discussions.

If you have suggestions for what the Senate can do to participate and encourage civil discussion, I would be glad to listen.

Also, I want to publicize two leadership activities you might want to join or use as examples for your own activities. First, I have reproduced below an abstract of the UCI Difficult Dialogues Project: Imagining the Future: Dissent, Dialogue and the Freedom to Inquire.

This project is being lead by Vice Chancellor Gomez and is supported by the Ford Foundation. Next, I am reproducing an open letter to the campus and community from Kristen Monroe, Director of the UCI interdisciplinary center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality. This letter says much more eloquently what I am trying to say here.

Please join me in thanking Chancellor Drake, Vice Chancellor Gomez and Professor Monroe for their examples of leadership on this issue.

Ken Janda
Academic Senate Chair

UC Irvine Difficult Dialogues Project: Imagining the Future: Dissent, Dialogue and the Freedom to Inquire

Principal Investigator: Manuel N. G , Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs

Building on continuing attempts to protect academic freedom, this project, with support from the Ford Foundation Difficult Dialogues Program, will use techniques drawn from peace-building and respect initiatives already under way to foster productive dialogue on campus. The project will develop and launch three new cross-disciplinary courses designed to educate students about contemporary issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, traditions of religious conflict and religious tolerance, and peace building.

The first course, Religious Diversity and Conflict, jointly developed by faculty in religious studies and in conflict resolution, will be submitted for approval for one or more breadth requirements. The second will be a two-quarter pilot seminar entitled Imagining the Future, an interdisciplinary, team-taught course focusing on solutions to the myriad problems that would remain in the event of a final peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. The third course, for upper-division students, will be a series of seminars on the Politics and Ethics of Difference.

In addition to these courses, the university will develop a series of teaching seminars to increase the ability of faculty and graduate teaching assistants to facilitate dialogue in existing courses that deal with sensitive topics. Workshops will offer participation in the conflict resolution process, and experts will promote dialogue both on and off campus.

Finally, the project includes a year-long series of lectures and other public events designed to heighten awareness of religious and ethnic conflict, peace-building techniques, and successful collaborations that have grown out of situations once dominated by conflict.

Statement from UCI Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality

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