SUBHEAD: Fac. Senate head may quit Walk committee The Faculty Senate last night added its powerful voice to the growing movement to persuade President Sheldon Hackney to keep open the possibility of moving Locust Walk fraternities. In addition, Senate Chairperson Almarin Phillips, the only faculty representative on Hackney's committee working to diversify the Walk, said he is considering resigning because Hackney's charge to the committee has left it too little leeway. Hackney said this semester that he would not allow the committee to consider moving the 11 Walk fraternities. Hackney formed the committee last semester after outcry that only predominantly white fraternities were allowed to live on the campus' main artery. The committee is charged with finding ways of letting a greater mix of students live on the Walk. Yesterday's move was out of character for the Faculty Senate, the representative organization for University professors, which normally works behind the scenes and rarely confronts the president publicly on divisive campus issues. The unanimous Senate resolution protesting Hackney's charge joins an almost identical Graduate and Professional Student Assembly resolution and echoes criticism from many undergraduates and graduate students. The resolution says the Walk committee "should be free to make any recommendation it wishes on the uses of Locust Walk," Phillips said after the group's monthly meeting last night. Phillips said that the Senate felt the committee should look at all options, including considering non-residential uses for the Walk. The public policy and management professor said that he "feels uncomfortable serving on the committee with such a limited charge," adding that "I am not committed to resigning, [but] I am not committed to staying on." Phillips said that the Senate also unanimously called on Hackney to re-examine the make-up of the committee. GAPSA Chairperson Susan Garfinkel is the only graduate student on the committee, and GAPSA has asked that two more graduate students be added. Phillips said that while Senate members feel faculty are underrepresented, they passed the resolution primarily because of graduate student concerns. Past Faculty Senate Chairperson Robert Davies said after last night's meeting that he thinks Hackney will bow to the pressure for a broader charge currently aimed at him. Davies pointed to last year's House of Our Own bookstore controversy -- where the administration eventually gave in to University-wide protest over a move to kick the store out of its current building -- as precedent for reversal. "I am in no doubt that an outpouring of opinion from the members of the University will have an effect," he said. GAPSA Chairpserson Garfinkel praised the Senate last night for both resolutions and said she thinks the move may convince Hackney to change his mind. "I would think that the formal addition of the Faculty Senate to the list of people asking for this would bring another strong and vocal constituency," she said. "I think if I were the president, I would pay serious attention to the Faculty Senate." Davies said even if Hackney tells the committee not to recommend moving Walk fraternities, members should not limit their deliberations. "Committees here in the past have said that 'Here is our charge, but in our wisdom we have decided to go beyond the charge,' " the emeritus molecular biology professor said. "My personal opinion is they should just do it." The committee is only advisory and even if it expands its scope, the president would have the final say on changes in the residential make-up of the Walk. Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson, who is co-chairing the Walk committee, last night declined to say whether the committee would expand its focus without a change in charge from Hackney. Morrisson added that debate over Hackney's charge has diverted attention from what changes can be made on the Walk, saying that the committee needs to start getting down to nuts and bolts if it is to meet its May deadline. Davies said the committee should be given free rein to examine all possibilities. "With something as important as Locust Walk, we don't feel that they should start with a limit on what can be done," Davies said. "The committee should be free to make its own recommendation and should not be limited by a charge that states fraternities should stay come what may." Davies said he felt Hackney's decision not to allow the removal of fraternities to be considered was a result of external pressures. "I'm sure he's been pressed enormously by Trustees and by alumni fraternity members," he said. Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris said she will try to add the issue to the agenda of Sunday's UA meeting. She said she hopes to get a vote on a similar resolution. She declined to give her opinion on the issue.Comments powered by Disqus
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