Following contentious discussion and a close vote at its meeting this week, Indiana University’s Bloomington Faculty Council endorsed a resolution criticizing the Kelley School of Business for its handling of the appointment of former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Peter Pace to the Poling Chair position at the Kelley School of Business.
The tone of the talks was set by a proposal from the Kelley School’s Academic Council, suggesting the resolution be tabled until the BFC’s Diversity and Affirmative Action Committee can meet with General Pace to discuss comments the General made to the Chicago Tribune suggesting he thinks homosexuality is immoral. But committee head and Maurer School of Law professor Alex Tanford said Pace and Kelley School officials were extended multiple opportunities to speak when the resolution was in its early stages and declined each time. However, Tanford said passing the resolution is not the same as denying people with certain beliefs from coming to campus.
“We’re doing nothing of the sort,” Tanford said. “General Pace is free to come here. Ann Coulter is free to come here. Al Franken is free to come here. But if a person is nationally controversial in a way that displays a bias against a discriminated-against minority, the university should not be giving that person an award.”
During the meeting, several faculty members attempted to dissect the resolution’s langauge. Nursing professor Valerie Markley and Lieutenant Colonel Eric Arnold of the IU ROTC questioned, as in past meetings, whether the document is critical of the military as a whole. Markley wondered aloud what the discussion would have been like if it had been doctor Peter Pace of a company like Microsoft, instead of Army General Peter Pace. But political science professor Jack Bielasiak countered by suggesting the discussion would have ended long ago if Pace had made anti-Semitic comments or ones critical of African-Americans.
A vote to send the resolution back to committee was put down by a seven-vote margin. Shortly thereafter, a 19-15 vote featuring several abstentions passed the resolution as written. Kelley School senior lecturer and Diversity Commitee member Michael Morrone said he worries about the implications of the vote.
“One of the things that the resolution focuses on is that [the university] got a bad name because of bringing General Pace here,” Morrone said. “But I think that we get a bad name now for criticizing the reasons for bringing him here.”
Tanford said he’s not trying to silence anyone’s voice, insisting he welcomes controversial viewpoints in campus discussions, but disagrees with giving some people university honors. “Those are the people we want here,” Tanford said, “But don’t give them the key to the city.”