Faculty Senate approves open letter, syllabus template

Faculty Senate voted to approve a post-election open letter on civility to the university along with the syllabus template for faculty on Friday.

“The faculty at the University of Southern Indiana wholeheartedly embraces the university’s mission to prepare individuals to live wisely in a diverse and global community, and condemns all racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and other bigoted forms of hate speech and actions,” the letter stated.

The letter, authored by associate professor of English Charles Conway, said it recognized that while the election is over, issues still exist and divide students on campus.

“We affirm and uphold the constitutional right to the freedom of speech, and we recognize that the U. S. Supreme Court has supported that right on numerous occasions, including cases that have involved the use of hate speech,” It said. “But we also understand that such speech is never effective in debate. Hate speech never helps us solve our problems.”

The letter goes on to say it encourages thoughtful and reasonable debate between members of the community and the university should be a leader in that area. It said the university wants to foster a critical thinking environment to solve problems, which includes partnering with diverse communities and avoiding discrimination.

The senators also voted to approve the syllabus template for faculty members.

The template will require a statement on Title IX, along with other formatting requirements.

“I would prefer that students actually read language that is centered on Title IX,” said provost Ron Rochon. “I think it’s important that we communicate to the faculty what our expectations are and who we are as an institution, so I preface that we actually have a language within the document.”

Rochon referenced Title IX issues across Indiana and said some students are unaware of what consent means. He said professors are encouraged to read over mandatory parts in class and not use hyperlinks in their syllabi. He also said  he wants faculty to update their syllabi every year.

“I’m hopeful that our colleagues are always changing their syllabi,” he said.