Qualifications v. philosophy center of Faculty Senate debate
A tie-breaking vote cast by the Faculty Senate’s president was needed Tuesday for the appointment of an SIUC faculty member to the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee.
The vote, cast by Donna Post, was needed after the Faculty Senate voted 9-9 on the action of appointing Jonathan Bean, an associate history professor, to the committee.
Although the committee on committees recommended Bean’s appointment, members of the Faculty Senate were informed that Bean wrote a book about affirmative action that is viewed as controversial by some.
Bean, who has researched affirmative action, wrote a book titled “Big Government and Affirmative Action, the Scandalous History of the Small Business Administration.” In the book, Bean questions the practicality of the Small Business Administration, a federal agency aimed at provided business opportunities for minorities.
The Faculty Senate’s debate centered on whether Bean’s ideology should play a part in their decision.
Robert Spellman, a senator with the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, said that the Faculty Senate should not judge Bean based solely on his ideology.
“That’s putting a Litmus test to him,” he said. “I find it offensive SIU would consider a man’s politics when we do this.”
Spellman also said he has read positive reviews about the book.
A Wall Street Journal critic wrote:”At once a powerful argument for killing off the agency and shrewd analysis of the political impulses that make its termination nearly impossible.”
But James Allen, a senator with the College of Liberal Arts, said he was concerned that the appointment may give people the wrong impression.
“I have to say we are sending perhaps the wrong message,” he said. “It makes me extremely uncomfortable as a senator.”
With two abstaining, the senate voted 9-9 on the measure, leaving the tie-breaking vote to Faculty Senate President Donna Post. After voting in favor of having Bean on the committee, Post said her decision was based on the committee’s recommendation of the history professor.
“I had a difficult decision,” she said. “My vote was to support the faculty.”
Bean was not present at the meeting, but said he was pleased about the decision during a telephone interview with the DAILY EGYPTIAN. He said the decision is an example of the University’s diverse opinions and ideologies.
“The campus and society at large have different viewpoints,” Bean said.
Despite the controversy surrounding his book, Bean said he will ensure that there is no discrimination on campus.
“One of the things I try to look for is different viewpoints,” he said.
Reporter Ben Botkin can be reached at [email protected]