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Campus Senate approves liberty studies minor

After a heated debate between senators and audience members alike, the Campus Senate voted to approve the proposal for the liberty studies minor.

According to Resolution 42-13, this minor will “provide students with the knowledge to understand how different theories of liberty address economics, authority and culture.”

During the second reading of this resolution, many of the senators supported the liberty minor due to academic freedom.  Because of academic freedom, Peter Boltuc, senator and professor of philosophy, believes the senate should do “nothing but approve the minor.”

Heather Dell, senator and associate professor of women and gender studies, said she is a strong supporter of academic freedom and can see diversity in the subject matter and faculty perspectives in the minor, but still wants to see more detailed descriptions of the classes that will be offered.

“I don’t feel comfortable voting on this without my colleagues and I knowing fully what the different perspectives are,” Dell said.

Suzanne Borland, senator and legal studies assistant professor, is also on the fence because she wonders how this minor will influence the image of UIS.  “Academic freedom doesn’t mean that we have to approve every minor or major proposal that comes in front of us.  Nobody is trying to say that these classes shouldn’t be taught or organized into a concentration.  It’s, is this a priority for the University to have a minor in liberty studies?”

“This is something that will impact the reputation of our campus,” Borland continued.  “This could be something that our campus could be known for, maybe positively; maybe it would be negatively… I would caution us to tread lightly and to take seriously what our support of this minor would mean for our campus and its reputation.”

Regardless, Borland is excited to see this has become a hot button topic on campus as students seem split on this issue.  On both perspectives, the Student Government Association brought in a petition with signatures showing support and the Radical Student Union (RSU) with a petition opposing the minor, both with over 80 signatures.

Jason Jenkins, president of the RSU, does not support the liberty studies minor.  “We cannot ignore the context in which this proposal is taking place, which is amidst of an ideological movement and we should do more than simply be polite in response to the coy suggestion that the dominant narrative of capitalism is somehow being subject to censorship.”

On the other hand, student Eboni Harris supports the liberty studies minor.  She said this minor could foster both learning and critical thinking for students interested in the subject.

Caprice Procarione, a student who attended the meeting, believes the minor needs to be more global, and as it stands, does not support the minor as it is.  However, Procarione expressed she is not opposed to the minor as long as changes are made.

Taking all items into consideration, the attending Campus Senate members voted: 15 in support of the minor, five opposing and four abstentions.

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