Create separate Faculty Senates for each school

The American Association of University Professors, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and the American Council on Education jointly recommend that university governance be guided by the principle that “faculty representatives should be selected by the faculty according to procedures determined by the faculty.” Yale is a member of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and the American Council on Education. Provost Ben Polak violated this shared guideline by appointing the ad hoc committee on Faculty Standards of Conduct. I urge the provost to table the committee’s draft until the FAS Faculty Senate has the time to consider it.

On the FAS Faculty Senate’s role in the process, ad hoc committee member Marina Picciotto of the School of Medicine commented to the Yale Daily News: “It doesn’t seem that it would be a democratic or representative process to have the FAS Senate responsible for a document that should address fundamental standards for every member of the faculty across many schools and many missions.”

She brings up two good points. The separate schools of Yale University have different missions, and the process of crafting Faculty Standards of Conduct should be a “democratic or representative process.”

Therefore, each school at Yale, including the School of Medicine, should establish a faculty senate to ensure that the formulation of binding standards on faculty conduct is a “democratic and representative” process. If the Faculty Standards of Conduct contain rules and regulations rather than simply shared aspirational goals, perhaps Faculty Senates in the separate schools should tailor those rules to fit their different missions.

Glenda Gilmore

Feb. 26

The writer is the Peter V. and C. Vann Woodward Professor of History

The News’ political agenda

Scott Stern’s recent take on YaleNews (“YalePropaganda,” Feb. 16) was stern indeed. And he’s right. When an institution — be it the White House, the GOP or Yale — releases information about itself, ulterior motives usually override factual accuracy. Calling YaleNews propaganda, then, is like calling Pravda propaganda: it’s true, but nobody goes to YaleNews for news about Yale anyway.

This is why the Yale Daily News exists. As an independent student-run paper, the News is in a unique position to provide fair, unbiased coverage of Yale and all her imperfections. It routinely breaks stories about sexual assault, mental health reform and administrative intransigence, and long may this continue.

But what if the News has an agenda? What if beneath its veneer of objectivity there lies a host of normative assumptions that affect how it reports on controversial issues?

The News succeeds more often than not in its quest for fairness, but when it fails -— and it does- — we should take that seriously.

“What Does Ferguson Mean” (Dec. 5, 2014) exemplifies the News’ not-so-implicit liberal outlook. Admittedly, it appeared in the Weekend section, so perhaps some degree of editorializing was appropriate. Nonetheless, the results are disturbing to anyone who believes journalism should prioritize facts over politics.

“There was silence,” the article begins, “Dignified, mournful, resolved silence.” This is not neutral language. Right off the bat, the choice of diction and syntax provokes an emotional reaction. It identifies protest with pathos, with no attempt to question the walkout that took place after a grand jury’s failure to indict Darren Wilson. It is poetry, not news.

The authors move on to discuss Yale students’ various reactions to Ferguson, making sure to mention the race of each student interviewed. That’s fine, considering the nature of the story, until we come to this line: “Beckett Lee ’18, who is white and identifies as conservative, called for students to remember Wilson’s humanity.”

By casually including Lee’s political leanings, the article sends a problematic message. The only person explicitly identified as “conservative” is the one who most clearly expresses sympathy for Darren Wilson. This is not objectivity. Other than an anonymous “right-leaning” student, no other students’ political leanings are revealed in the article. This reinforces the prevailing narrative of conservatives siding with law enforcement rather than minority victims of alleged police brutality — a simplistic and unfair assumption.  Moreover, the authors choose to paraphrase Lee instead of quoting him directly. We have no way of knowing whether he actually used the phrase, “Wilson’s humanity.”

The News should leave opining for the opinion page. A newspaper’s primary job is to educate its readers about the news, not cater to any one political narrative. When we allow any media outlet to unfairly spin the facts, we risk ignorance and imprudence. For a student-run paper, the News is above average. We should be grateful for that. But it isn’t infallible. And neither are we.

Aaron Sibarium

March 5

The writer is a freshman in Timothy Dwight College and a staff columnist for the News.