After an hour of debate, the faculty of Felician University adopted the following statement, sponsored by Richard Burnor (Philosophy), James Smith (Counseling Psychology), and myself (Philosophy), as amended by Joshua Bornstein (Education):
In view of today’s social and political unrest and the renewed indications of bias and discrimination that have recently arisen in the United States and around the world, the faculty of Felician University wish to affirm the following:
In keeping with the Franciscan mission and the Christian and humanistic values of this institution, the faculty of Felician University unequivocally stand for the equal and intrinsic moral value of all human beings, regardless of race, religion, culture and ethnic background, country of origin, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability. We furthermore recommit ourselves to fair and unbiased, nondiscriminatory practices in all that we do at this institution and in our own personal behaviors. To any who today feel themselves to be more vulnerable and less respected or cared for, we stand with and for you.
May God graciously bless and protect all peoples in this New Year.
The vote was 46 in favor, 19 opposed. It was touch and go there for awhile.
Academic politics, folks. Who says the stakes are low?
Postscript, Jan. 31, 2017: After about 40 minutes of discussion, my Phil 250B section (ethics) voted the resolution down. The vote was 6 in favor and 10 against, with 5 abstentions (and 7 students absent). The general consensus of those against was that the resolution was pointless, vacuous, wordy, and intended as a kind of PR stunt to ease tensions after a tense fall semester. The consensus of those in favor was that it was better than nothing. My response: the critics have a point, but they’re overly cynical, and have unrealistically high expectations of what can be achieved through politics (counting passage of the resolution as a form of politics).
Postscript, February 8, 2017: After about an hour of discussion, my Phil 100PCN section (Critical Thinking for a cohort of nursing students) voted the resolution down. The vote was 0 in favor and 13 against (0 students absent). I’m a little puzzled by the result, because the discussion seemed to indicate sympathy for the statement, but the vote was unanimously against it. Though some were inclined to regard the statement as a mere PR stunt, I argued against that. Still, the cynicism expressed for the university was so intense that students were inclined to downgrade the significance of the statement even if they agreed with the sentiments behind it.
Postscript, February 13, 2017: After an hour of discussion, my Phil100B section (Critical Thinking) voted the resolution down. The vote was 10 in favor and 11 against, with 2 abstentions (7 students absent).
Postscript, February 14, 2017: After about 30 minutes of discussion, my PSCI 303 section (International Relations) voted the resolution down. The vote was 3 in favor, 4 against, with 1 abstention (4 students absent).