University Senate debates making wartime statement

Angela Moret

The University Senate meeting closed with a debate over the Senate’s role in discussing the war on Iraq last Friday.

In a letter to the Senate, the Committee for Mission and Social Justice raised the possibility of having the Senate ask University President Rev. Edmund Dobbin, O.S.A., to make a statement on the war.

The letter made it clear that the committee was “not interested in debating the morality of this war. Rather, we are interested in debating whether or not Villanova University ought to speak publicly about this conflict.”

The letter continued, “The Mission/Social Justice Committee believes that the University ought to speak to this issue.”

Dr. Mark Doorley, chair of the Committee for Mission and Social Justice, reported that out of the approximately 25 Senators present at the meeting, eight spoke critically of the proposal while one supported it.

Doorley spoke favorably of the proposal, suggesting that the Senate should take part in the discussion to remind the University community that “we are all in this together.”

He said a letter from Dobbin would make the University aware that as an Augustinian institution, it is committed to peace.

Commerce and Finance Senator Nicholas Bouknight was opposed to the Senate entering the discussion because such issues “are of no concern to the Senate.” He also said that the Senate “should not focus on national politics and should only focus on University issues.”

Doorley claimed that if his committee had made a motion requesting a letter from Dobbin, it would have failed because of lack of support in the Senate.

Regardless, Doorley explained, the Committee for Mission and Social Justice’s goal to record such a discussion in the Senate minutes was accomplished.

Dobbin’s statement sent to students, faculty and staff on March 23, “to unite as a people of faith at this most difficult time,” was not a direct result of the Senate discussion.

“Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe it was because it was in the minutes,” Doorley said.

In other business at the meeting, the Committee for Mission and Social Justice reported that Dobbin approved a resolution on handicap accessibility. The proposal was previously approved by the Senate.

Dobbin’s endorsement requires that the University plan for improved handicap accessibility to the Campus Ministry office, the Center for Peace and Justice Education, and the graduate studies area within the next few years.

Stephen Fugale, director of the Office for University Information Technologies, discussed Webmail and online security improvements.

The Senate also voted and passed a change in the University constitution to add a faculty member and a student member to the Athletic Advisory Committee of the Senate. The student member will be the student in charge of the basketball lottery.