Sunday, April 18, 2010

Historic vote

You can read the exact wording of the "no confidence" resolution unanimously approved Sunday night (4/18) by the Shimer College Assembly at both the Shimer Student Alliance blog and the Shimer Alumni Alliance blog . Since I've been scooped by Shimer new media-ites who must be younger and faster -- or at least closer to their computers -- I'll do some instant analysis of the vote and its meaning, like the pundit (did you know pundit derives from Sanskrit?) I once wanted to be.

The no confidence vote by an entity that speaks for Shimer is a loud statement. It follows similar/comparable statements from two major stakeholders in the institution that is Shimer: the college's faculty and alumni. There's an interesting distinction between the no confidence resolutions approved by both faculty and the Assembly, and the alumni association's call for the resignation of President Thomas Lindsay. For those of us who are alums, Lindsay is not our leader, so it's not appropriate for alums to vote no confidence, since we are not led, per se, by Shimer's president, unlike the voting members of the Assembly (students, faculty, trustees, admin staff). But it's as if there is a compound failure here; as a leader, Lindsay has not led. From the point of view of alums, the president has failed on his watch of the institution.

In the focused, non-protracted, non-wordsmithy, citizen-ly deliberations of Sunday's emergency Assembly, two things stood out from my perspective. First, Shimerians care about the faculty and are mindful of them. That means respects them, respects their words, respects their work, their sacrifices, their domain of curriculum. Shimerians will be protective should there be pretty good reason to fear that some faculty are going to be thrown away arbitrarily. One would think that a man with Tom Lindsay's intellectual interests would know dozens upon dozens of examples of historic usurpation of power and how those kinds of things always end badly for the usurper.

Second: unanimous. Since the balloting was secret, the 60-0 unanimity is remarkable. Nobody voted against no confidence. I guess that means positively nobody has confidence in the president's ability to lead the institution he is paid to lead; perhaps the three abstentions represent a kind of agnosticism about the question.

I was impressed by the efficiency of this Assembly. All democratic gatherings should have such informed and thoughtful citizens. The Assembly is Soc 2 homework.

Marcia Zdun Nelson '75

1 comment :

Stephen said...

I want to second everything Marcia has said, and offer a word of encouragement to all of the incredible Shimer students and faculty. As one of many alums who watched and read the Assembly on-line (a big thanks to all those who made that possible for us), I too was impressed with the quality of the debate, and also the concern for the shared community that really makes Shimer the outstanding college it is. In many ways this was Shimer's finest moment. No matter which generation of alums we represent, I think we all agree that the Shimer curriculum and the community of shared learning were the forces that shaped our lives. These key elements are stronger today than ever before, and that can only be a good thing for Shimer's future.

I am so proud of all of you. Please know that we stand ready to support Shimer's wonderful students and faculty with renewed energy and commitment. And let me just say that it was great to see Marcia, even if the video feed turned out to be a silent movie!
Stay strong friends, we've got your back!

Steve Gauger, class of 1975