In less than two weeks, Indiana University’s Bloomington Faculty Council (BFC) will vote on a resolution condemning the Kelley School of Business for how it handled the awarding of a university honor to former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Peter Pace. The resolution has been amended several times and appears likely to pass, despite renewed criticism at a meeting this week from members of the university’s military community.
The latest draft of the resolution, approved late last month, is just four paragraphs long, which is about half the length of some previous drafts. Its wording, however, is more careful concerning Gen. Pace, and his comments to the Chicago Tribune regarding discriminatory treatment of homosexuals by the U.S. military. According to Pace, such treatment is justified because of his personal view that homosexuality is immoral. The document now says the Bloomington Faculty Council “[E}xpresses its regret that General Pace was brought to campus in a way that was offensive to the gay and lesbian community…”
It’s wording is tame, compared to a November draft that called for further discussion between Gen. Pace and the university community, and condemned both his beliefs and the seemingly closed nature of interviews with Pace leading up to his appointment as Poling Chair of Business and Government at IU. In fact, BFC Diversity and Affirmative Action committee chairman, Alex Tanford, admitted the most recent draft does not tell the Kelley School of Business to do anything, mostly, he said, because such a recommendation requires too many stipulations.
“Simply the process of defining what constitutes an honor or an award, something prestigious, is almost impossible on this campus, so that creating such a procedure would raise more problems than it solved,” Tanford said. “In the end we abandoned, on pragmatic grounds, any attempt to turn this into a policy with a procedure, rules, teeth and sanctions, and things like that because there just seemed no way to go down that road productively.”
During the meeting, nursing professor and retired Army Lt. Col. Valerie Markley read a response she had written to the most recent circular, including her belief the resolution reflects poorly on the U.S. military and serves only to widen a gap on the Bloomington campus between academia and the armed forces, regardless of Pace’s comments.
“Everyone has rights,” she said. “I feel that making an attack on a distinguished leader of our military sends the wrong message.”
Markley’s comments were echoed by Lt. Col. Eric Arnold of the I.U. ROTC, who said the resolution will hinder the university’s ability to recruit students who are also interested in military service.
Tanford responded that the document does not condemn the military as a whole, but rather Pace himself.
“I think that General Pace would have been completely innocuous if he had stuck to the military’s official line,” Tanford argued. “What happened here was that General Pace, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went beyond that and said the policy was justified because homosexuality is immoral. So in that sense, he did not adopt the official position of the military, he went beyond it. So I think that there is a criticism of him personally, but there is no criticism of the military. It’s not their decision.”
The resolution is scheduled for a vote by the entire BFC February 17, 2009.