Faculty members are circulating an open letter written by political science professor Harvey Klehr that seeks to show support for College Dean Robin Forman, who announced the closing of several departments and programs last semester. More than 100 faculty members have signed the letter.
We at the Wheel, however, take issue with the language used in the letter, which we believe to be ambiguous and unclear. While politically correct and judicious, the letter can be interpreted many ways. Do the faculty who signed the letter support none, some or all of the department cuts? The letter has been characterized as one of support but we ask, support for whom and to what degree? Is the letter meant to support Forman’s decision, Forman as a decision-maker, Forman as a person or Forman as a leader who has started a great dialogue on campus. Or perhaps was the letter meant to show support for those faculty on the College Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC) who worked with Forman on the decisions? Support, even, is a contested word, and perhaps the letter is meant to be a show of respect.
Because of the letter’s great ambiguity, we believe that it is ineffective since it is difficult to know why everyone signed the letter, given the numerous possible intents or motivations. We do agree though, as the letter points out, that dialogue concerning the department changes has been one-sided and that in order for conversations to be productive, both sides must be vocal.
We applaud the motion in and of itself, as it opens up a necessary dialogue. This letter, in our opinion, aims to tell the community that another side exists and that this side has a voice. Now, we encourage this side and this voice to clarify what exactly they believe and advocate for. And as always, we, as a newspaper, encourage those differing opinions to reach out to us. By that same token, we understand that it is difficult for some to be blunt about their opinions, for fear of appearing insensitive to their peers and colleagues who have lost their jobs and livelihoods.
The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel‘s editorial board.