Blaise Pascal, Penseé 347: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

To the Senate, and Let Them Work

Craig Bernthal

Of government the properties to unfold,
Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse;
Since I am put to know that your own science
Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
My strength can give you: then no more remains,
But that to your sufficiency as your Worth is able,
And let them work. The nature of our people,
Our city's institutions, and the terms
For common justice, you're as pregnant in
As art and practise hath enriched any
That we remember.  (Duke Vincentio, Measure for Measure)

The Academic Senate is set to go through the annual process of electing 1/3 of its members. At the beginning of this semester, I was afraid the Senate was in a coma. I am happy to say, that I no longer think so; in fact, the faculty owes a debt of gratitude to many hardworking, selfless people in the Senate.

We learned this year how important it is to have dedicated and watchful people as senators and on university committees. Against the ever growing tendency toward administrative centralization and top-down decision making, the Senate is the main body looking out for academic freedom, faculty consultation, and the faculty's function to determine instruction and curriculum.

The faculty needs people in the senate who look after their department's interests and those of the entire faculty. Some people see the Senate as an opportunity to start on an administrative career. From what I've seen, those hopes are usually disappointed. Others are placed in the Senate by their departments for RTP credit--and because no one else wants to do the work. What we need, more than ever, are people without administrative ambition, who have some experience, whose desire is to preserve the faculty's traditional role. One-third of the Senate will be elected soon. I hope departments encourage the best people they have to take on the job.

When I started writing about Fresno State issues this semester, I knew there'd be a time when the main function of "raising the Shire" would be no longer necessary. I think that time has arrived. No one needs to hear from me, at this point, to tell them what facts we have, and more importantly, what facts we don't have. To the Senate, and let them work.

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