Tag Archives: student re-visioning committee

No oversight: Fact sheet on race at Emory

Whether you’re new to the controversies at Emory or just want a refresher, the SRC has prepared a fact sheet on racial representation at the university, the devastating effects the cuts are having on faculty and grad students of color, and the university’s increasing insularity within Atlanta and the U.S. South.
Fact Sheet on Race and the Emory Cuts

Edited 2/22: PDF revised for clarity

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Faculty governance means faculty governance

As we noted a few days ago, college faculty are meeting next Wednesday, Jan. 23, to vote on a motion raised by Stefan Lutz and the Governance Committee to annul an earlier motion brought forth by Matthew Payne. The Payne motion called for an independent review of the decision-making process behind the cuts, to be carried out by a committee of 5 professors beginning in April.

Here is the text of Dr. Payne’s motion, which passed by a vote of 64 to 54.

Obviously, the SRC supports Dr. Payne’s amendment. It fulfills our third mandate, disclosure and investigation of CFAC operations. But it’s not a blanket solution; the text doesn’t mention the possibility of reversing the cuts, nor does it grant students any official power. As minutes from the December meeting show, the modest scope of the proposal was what allowed it to pass. We’re also disappointed that the Governance Committee is pushing against the faculty’s decisions, but since a few professors have remarked that the first vote felt muddled, it’s within the Gov Comm’s power to re-open it. As always, we encourage all faculty to attend and vote.

As a student group that relies on and honors our faculty supporters, we respect the AAUP’s wish that we not turn 1/23 into a rally. (Yup, shelving the armadillo costumes for now.) Ultimately, what’s at stake is the integrity of faculty governance, and sometimes the best way to support that is to take a back seat. That said, individual students may choose to demonstrate in White Hall on Wednesday afternoon, and it is within their rights to do so (it is not in their rights to crash the meeting or be disruptive). Any actions on Thursday do not represent the SRC.

TL;DR: Important faculty meeting. Students, focus your energy on building awareness and fostering conversation.

Edited 1/20 to correct an organization’s name.

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Acrimony and lockdown

Emory’s official news organ and some of the news media are calling last night’s meeting a failure, or accusing students of avoiding “real dialogue.” Here’s what I saw: 7 students and 3 professors entered the dean’s building to negotiate in good faith, after a week of exhaustive planning. The SRC delegates were Pat Blanchfield, Katherine Bryant, Luke Donahue, Navyug Gill, David Mullins, Mael Vizcarra, and Andrew Zonderman. They were accompanied by Professors Jason Francisco (Visual Arts), Anna Grimshaw (ILA), and Noelle McAfee (Philosophy). As many have pointed out, the university forbade any recording, so no one will have an “authoritative” account of the conversation or even its agenda.

Outside, we put up signs, played Motown and Beatles songs, shared coffee, danced, and waved to passersby.

Inside, the delegates were greeted by police at every corner and by an administration that accused us of intimidating opponents into silence.

The students and professors emerged from an hour of hard, fruitless negotiation to speak to the press articulately and hopefully. The president and dean would not even come out and address the public.

Photo by Evan Mah for the Wheel

Photo by Evan Mah for the Wheel

I have a good idea of who should feel humiliated, and it’s not the people who “lost” in the ersatz negotiations.

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Press release: Emory Protests Yield Negotiations

Written by the SRC


On Tuesday, a coalition of students, faculty, and staff staged a massive walkout on the Emory University campus and successfully occupied the University’s administrative headquarters. That group successfully compelled President James Wagner to begin negotiations to reverse the devastating cuts Dean Robin Forman announced on September 14.

Today, Friday, December 7, formal negotiations begin in earnest. At 5PM, Student Re-Visioning Committee (SRC) representatives, faculty observers, and community stakeholders will sit down with President Wagner, Dean Robin Forman, and Vice President Gary Hauk in the Candler Library building on the main campus. The SRC’s demands remain:

1. A reversal of the cuts.

2. Formal and meaningful student, faculty and staff participation on all key decision making bodies.

3. Full disclosure and investigation of all College Financial Advisory Committee proceedings.

The close attention and supportive presence of the Emory community is vital to ensuring that the administration remains candid and that negotiations proceed in good faith. Emory community members will gather outside the Candler Library on the Quad at 4:45PM to demonstrate their investment in the negotiations, which will last one hour. Any and all attendees will be transparently kept up-to-date of negotiation developments as they happen. Remember: the administration is now willing to discuss a reversal of the cuts, and has pledged to explicitly address our specific questions about governance, cut demographics, and institutional transparency. We are moving forward in good faith – but we need your attention to keep them honest.

A full statement from the SRC regarding its expectations from these meetings is reproduced below and will soon appear in the Wheel.

Follow @EmoryCuts on Twitter for breaking news and updates on the situation. For more information and background on the cuts at Emory, including an archive of links to ongoing media coverage, visit the #EmoryCuts Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EmoryCuts) and the Stop the Cuts at Emory Blog (https://stopthecutsemory.wordpress.com/).

Continue reading

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Let the negotiations begin

Flashback to yesterday. Once we successfully occupied the building, a song was in order. The first was “Amazing Grace,” which may have been a little off message, but soon we were in tune:

Detailed inside narratives of the protest have emerged, which is great, because I’ve never developed a skill for linear narration (Melville references, on the other hand…). In addition, you can find beautiful photos by visual arts professor Jason Francisco, brand-new ILA PhD graduate and musician Laura Emiko Soltis, co-organizer Pat Blanchfield and more.

We voted to leave the building at around 7:00 p.m., with the promise that a small group of SRC delegates would have a meeting with both Wagner and Dean Forman, during which the SRC would control the agenda. That meeting will take place this Friday, Dec. 7, at 5:00. The delegates are expecting a strong showing of support (and not a little intimidation) outside the Candler Library beginning at 4:45 p.m. Join the Facebook event here. What is crucial is that this not be just another meeting. We are not looking for appeasement, nor even, primarily, “answers.”

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Pres. Wagner responds

President Wagner has responded to some of the questions the Student Revisioning Committee delivered to him at his State of the University Address and in person.

Here is his letter [PDF].
Edit: It’s in the Wheel, too, awaiting comments.

Sure to cause some controversy is the suggestion that Emory’s Center for Community Partnerships has the resources to benefit Atlanta’s public schools on the same level of an educational studies department. Of course, we are proud and thankful for a “munificent” donation from a trustee intended to raise graduation rates in city schools. Yet these projects are not the same as evidence-based research and training.

We are still awaiting an official reply from Dean Forman by this Friday.

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Letter delivered

The SRC delivered a revised version of our three demands and questions to Pres. Wagner and Dean Forman today. Wagner wasn’t available to receive the letter (he was in Chicago as part of a federal bioethics panel), so VP Gary Hauk received us graciously. Here’s a video. Forman was somewhat more caught off-guard when more than a dozen students and faculty members walked into his office quietly and with permission. There’s a video of that too.

We are hoping for a response from the senior administration by November 16.

In the meantime, the SRC’s next strategy session is this Wednesday (the 7th) at 6-ish in White Hall 101, so US citizens among you have no excuse not to vote tomorrow. Er, we don’t endorse anyone.

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Flyer bombardment

The campus has been awash in posters and morbid props lately.

The white flyers show the Emory logo cut with scissors and dripping blood, and the word “Arts” in Arts and Sciences has been slashed out of the poster.

The rainbow thunderbolt poster announces a protest of Chick-Fil-A, a fast food chain with a history of sponsoring anti-gay organizations, and which operates a franchise on campus.


The Modern Languages Building brings the pain:

Finally, a call to artists and graphic designers: The Student Re-visioning Committee is looking for a new iconic image. The first “Reject the Cuts” flyer was intended to bring disparate departments together, but the focus of activism has shifted. Furthermore, the original woodcut carries with it the legacy of colonial America and was mobilized on both sides of the Civil War; one student describes it as a little Tea Partyish.

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Wagner: “Disruptively innovative”

President Wagner delivered his annual State of the University address to a packed room this afternoon. We bring you some highlights:

  • The state of the university is “goooood” (imagine the pitch dropping halfway through, with a tiny question mark at the end).
  • Campaign Emory is likely to hit its goal of raising $1.6 billion by December. We should also expect an announcement of an “anchor” donation for the next fundraising campaign. This one’s gonna fund really wild things like student financial aid.
  • Speaking of which, Oxford College no longer has a need-blind admissions policy. The Druid Hills campus stands by its policy of selecting students based on merit rather than their deep pockets, but the $84 million a year cost of financial aid is a burden. Everyone wants to reduce attrition rates and put scholarship money to better use.
  • As one of only 200 research universities among 4600 institutions of higher education in the U.S., and one of a smaller group of R1 schools, Emory represents a “tiny niche” in the education market, but an important one.
  • Gray Crouse, professor of biology and president of the Governing Committee, has advised Wagner that the old way of running research universities is economically unsustainable. Crouse warns that “most faculty are oblivious” to this fact. (Wonder if that includes the economists and education policy analysts?)
  • The economy will affect “the college experience at the most fundamental levels”: curriculum, teaching, promotion and tenure standards, lab management, the residential experience… We couldn’t tell you how any of these items will actually change.

Clearly, what we really need are “new income streams.” Apart from expanding our partnership with Georgia Tech, examples were scarce.

  • There is a new holding company called “Emory Innovations Inc.” Officially separate from the university, it will retain patents for things that would “support our revenue goals.”
  • Where business practices are concerned, we should learn from former Emory president Atticus Haygood, who said, “Let us stand by the good and let’s make it better.” Presumably, this only applies to investment portfolios.
  • Pres. Wagner has spoken to Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-Fil-A, on two occasions, but he has not responded to letters on behalf of 9 GLBTQ student groups and GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association. He will “not stand in the way of Sodexo” (loaded words) if it chooses to change up the franchises on campus. Emory students seem to have been voting against the company with our wallets…
  • We need to “capitalize on our literary assets” and live up to that #1 ranking in USA Today without encouraging literary scholarship or creativity in other languages or connecting literature to other endeavors.

Thanks to a strong showing by the SRC and supporters, the cuts dominated the Q&A. Andrew Zonderman presented the SRC’s statement of demands and handed Wagner a list of prepared questions. To the question “Are you willing to work with us?” Wagner answered yes.

  • Katherine Bryant of neuroscience asked about the crises facing Emory’s reputation, capped off most recently with the threat of censure by the AAUP (“where we’ll join a long list of eminent peers inclunding the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the University of Dubuque, and North Idaho College”). Wagner responded, “Quite the contrary”: peer institutions have been commending Emory for its courageous leadership. He wasn’t too concerned with the AAUP statement insofar as it represented opinions from on campus. The only faculty who count teach at other universities.
  • Amber Jones of the DES wanted to compare the university’s rhetoric of diversity with its actions with regard to the compromised positions of African American and Latino/a undergraduates, graduate students and faculty (“we know that because that’s part of what we study”). They quarreled over the figures on minority students’ dropout rates. Asked how he justified cutting a division that has produced the highest proportion of black PhD graduates in the country for the last twenty years, Wagner replied, “Whatever rationale the deans have used, I’m sure they took that into account.”

According to Wagner, the faculty need to take more initiative in governing the institution and examining the status of the liberal arts.

  • Professor Kevin Corrigan of the ILA: “Why would you allow the effective dismemberment of the ILA before the committee on the liberal arts, headed by Provost Lewis, got down to business?” No definite answer, although Wagner was sure he had sent Corrigan a warning letter back in March.
  • Corrigan also asked if Wagner had a “real vision for the liberal arts.” Wagner had come prepared. A liberal arts education requires critical thinking, creativity, integrity: “I think we’re failing because we just emphasize the critical thinking part.” (Cf.) The liberal arts also requires an “authentic identity,” something that isn’t defined by an institutional tie–thus, Wagner says, the Goizueta Business School, the medical school and the law school are all liberal arts schools. (I always knew my humanities background made me a phony.)

I’ve compiled this from my own notes, and am happy to correct inaccuracies or omissions. @EmoryCuts and the Wheel are following the speech as well.

Tomorrow The next day, the zombies walked on Asbury Circle.

Edited to add: You can now watch Wagner’s speech–sans Q&A–on YouTube.

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At tonight’s Student Revisioning Committee meeting, a faculty member from one of the targeted departments described a culture of “blatant intimidation” toward professors who speak up against Emory policies and visible efforts to buy off potential critics.

First, there was a meeting with the Faculty Council (a branch of the university senate) last week, at which several members of targeted departments were barred from contributing.[1] The same cohort of professors was allowed to address the Governing Committee. How did the GovComm answer their questions?

“Stonewalled. Completely stonewalled. They simply sat in silence.”

Actually, they answered one question. Asked about the power given to those eight professors who conducted secret audits of departments (not their own, of course) and lied about their plans, the GovComm admitted that it had “oversight, but no jurisdiction” over them. A whole new definition of government, perhaps? Or is Emory now a state of exception?

Vocal faculty members are experiencing an even more aggressive version of what student activists face: sleek, professional indifference. Roger Sikes, who facilitated the SRC meeting, put it succinctly: “It’s not about building a rational argument; we already have that. What we don’t have yet is power.”

[1] For the record, the editor of this blog is baffled by all these committee and board names, too, but note: members of the faculty are outsiders on the Faculty Council.

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