Sunday, October 11, 2009

Prof William Warner Statement on Censure to UCSB Faculty Legislature

Senate Meeting, 8 October 2009
My name is William Warner, Professor of English and member of the Faculty Senate
My 1st observation:
The Senate has for the most part gone missing in this crisis. When the pay cuts and furloughs were proposed, in the build up to the Regents meeting, and in their granting of extraordinary emergency powers to President Yudof, where was the UCSB faculty senate?  Why was there no argument to the university and the public at large that the furloughs would be a grievous stroke to the future competitiveness and future greatness of this university?
So agenda Item one: how can this body seize an active role going forward? How, for example, can we demand and win impact on the deliberations of the Gould commission. (should we form a senate task force composed of members of different senate committees, draw on faculty not now in the senate, etc.) With all due respect, Chancellor Yang’s special Budget committees cannot speak for the faculty or the academic senate.
We need more scheduled meetings: I’m a member of the Senate, and I note that the Senate calendar for this fall has this October 8 meeting and then a Senate meeting on November 5th: this is not enough meetings for us to develop, in a patient and deliberative fashion, a response to this crisis. 
On the issue of contributing to greater transparency: One goal of organizing ourselves should be to develop channels of communication to the whole faculty so that what the senate knows the faculty knows. Why not have a regular Chairman’s letters on the crisis? those letters could describe what is being proposed by university administration and what the Academic Senate’s position is.
Final issue I will address and it is controversial:  We the faculty senate of UC Santa Barbara should issue a censure of President Yudof; we should perhaps call for his resignation.
Now I can imagine some saying—but a storm is a terrible time to challenge the captain. To which I rejoin: but what if Captain Yudof is taking this great ship in the wrong direction?
There are 3 indications that this is so:
1) He has been authoritarian: in responding to the budget crisis he did not consult in a robust fashion with the members of his university—instead, he requested and gained from the Regents what Georgio Agomben calls “a state of exception”, a law that suspends law, an assertion of the sovereignty over normal protocols of shared governance, to make, if you will, laws outside the laws.    

2)  He is promoting for the university a set of financial remedies that will continue the privatization of this university (increased tuition, differential tuition fees, more out of state students, more foreign students, acquiescence to lower and lower state funding) In all of this, he evidences remarkably little understanding of what this university is about.
3) Finally, every time that he has spoken on the crisis, he has proven himself a terrible spokesman for the ideals of public education.  When the New York Times gave him a forum in which he might have spoken for the values of the University of California, an opportunity that most university presidents would love to have, he spoke of the bloom having gone from education and he compared the University of California, in an odd and tendentious analogy, to a cemetery. To which I say let’s haunt him!   This body should censure President Yudof.  Thankyou

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