Comment on “Autonomy and Academic Freedom”: WASC’s 2010 Review of LSU by Susie.
WASC has confirmed where La Sierra’s allegiance lies and it is not to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. If this is the standard: academic freedom, meeting the expectations of society, diversity, and autonomy from the church —then there is NO reason not to cut the church strings. Church members are owed a refund.
Recent Comments by Susie
Board of Trustees Addresses Curriculum Proposal
Holly, I concur with you that money speaks. That’s why I used the expression “well heeled.” Money is probably an unspoken but standard prerequisite, although in this case it appears herd mentality is the highest priority.
Board of Trustees Addresses Curriculum Proposal
Somewhere along the way, the Board of Trustees has lost the Trustee part. Anyone who is not willing to be part of the administration’s rubber stamp club will be dismissed. Three new seats on the LSU Board are now available; qualifications as follows:
1.Individuality is strongly discouraged.
2.All candidates will be screened carefully to be certain no conservative theology lurks inside.
3.No talking to the faculty or constituents will be allowed.
4.Well-heeled puppets strongly preferred.
Former board member never talked with biology faculty
If ever truth was stranger than fiction, the unfolding La Sierra saga proves that point. Somehow in the midst of this hostile environment where everyone was forbidden to “talk” with everyone else–a tentative/temporary solution was offered. Board members (or two of them, apparently) had the gall to actually listen to and carry on some sort of meaningful communication with the biology teachers. The board appointed committee to analyze the creation/evolution concerns didn’t talk with the biology teachers. (Read their previous report.) I challenge anyone to read through the LSU by-laws and board constraints of recent years and not conclude that there is an extremely dictitorial-style (hide everything behind closed-doors) administration holding on to an inordinate amount of power. Communications between faculty and board members, between board members and the general public, and even between faculty and the general public, are either forbidden or carefully controlled. A few brave souls were willing to put their names on a proposal. Not a declaration. Not a “final document” — a PROPOSAL!! One that turns out to have enough redeeming qualities that the NAD and the LSU board (after having a hissy fit about “process”) were willing to endorse. A biology FACULTY proposal that appears to have been presented as a hopeful gesture to satisfy WASC and AAA or at least keep possibilities of resolution in sight. Our church doesn’t need to worry about the “second grade level” of its membership. Our church needs to worry about the large population of leaders and administrators with the emotional maturity level of two-year-olds.
La Sierra University Granted Window to Show its Faithfulness to Churchâ€™s Creation Belief
Shane pointed out what may be crucial in forcing LSU to choose it’s allegiance. Since Wisbey has pledged the administration and the board will “resist efforts that would compromise academic freedom and institutional autonomy” how can AAA’s requirements be met? Which one will LSU oblige? Wisbey has committed the school to an impossible dilemma. With WASC reevaluating, at any time now (if not already) the answer may be forthcoming quite soon.
LSU Board says ‘we apologize’
The memo, letter and attached report involves over 30 pages of double speak to address the creation/evolution controversy—it’s not hard to see where that tactic leads. Despite the words attempting to convey apology and reform and standing true for church principles, at the same time there are statements which excuse or provide convenient outs. Nor are there any real apologies noted. Where is a published apology to the hundreds of students in the past who signed petitions? Where is a published apology to Louie Bishop?
The Board appointed evolution/creation study committee concluded that any tangible hands-on-investigation such as looking at curriculum or visiting classrooms or talking directly with the teachers was beyond their expertise, therefore the Provost conceived the survey idea. But even with the survey results, notice this disclaimer: “The only way in which to fully benchmark these results, however, would be to have this same survey conducted by La Sierraâ€™s sister institutions in North America. Without such comparisons, any criticism of La Sierraâ€™s effectiveness at supporting Adventist beliefs relative to other institutions is speculative, at best. It would be helpful if other Adventist institutions could work on the curriculum challenges surrounding this issue in a collaborative manner.”
The philosophizing in the committee’s report does nothing to clarify; it supports the notion that no matter what is taught, it is under the rubric of higher education and academic freedom (yet still supposedly under the SDA umbrella — an umbrella that they have stretched beyond recognition)..â€œThe educational enterprise by its very nature introduces students to new ideas and new ways of looking at the world that are often very different from what they have known before. This can sometimes create tension and anxiety, but never more so than when the new ideas seem to contradict deeply held belief whether in the social, political or religious domain.” Joel Martin is quoted, “Religion is not a science and should never masquerade as such.” Then further talk of the arrogance of both sides.
How can any organization maintain its distinct identity if it attempts to coexist with pluralism? Truth is always consistent with itself. Those of us who send our children to Adventist schools did not pack their heads full of Santa Clause stories and then complain because our children are being taught something different in their advanced classes. No, we brought them up believing in God, His Word and the foundational principles of Christianity (specifically the SDA worldview) and there is no reason that those beliefs should be attacked and discredited at a Seventh-day Adventist school. “Advanced” instruction in ANY field of learning taught within a SDA institution does not give license to discredit SDA beliefs and values.
Even though LSU is admitting that listening to constituents was lacking on their part, yet: â€œNevertheless, at least as worrisome as the issue of how the universityâ€™s biology curriculum presents creation and evolution is the hostility and the lack of civility with which some members of the constituency have conducted the dialogue of this issue.” Well, that lets them off the hook! They don’t have to listen to anyone who doesn’t support their agenda, because of course, those people are not “civil” or “reasonable.”
And finally, all of this tempest in a teapot is going to dissipate because: they’re going to have ongoing workshops; ongoing surveys (which are only valid if the other SDA universities do likewise); they bring in people like Chris Oberg to explain scripture and LSU’s administration is on the job—neither faculty nor board members are to speak on their own. The faculty cannot because they are “not experts at speaking outside the classroom” and the Board, by their own by-laws, are required to put smiley rubber stamps on all actions voted by the majority (under the watchful eye of the president and the attorney.) All “results” will be filtered through the administration and PR. Furthermore the Board has been admonished to focus on the more positive aspects of the university. There. It is all fixed. And the future propaganda will verify the fact. Just wait and see.
Amidst all of this scrambling for explanations, where is LSU’s clear statement affirming creation? By comparison, here’s what a clear statement looks like: