The LSU Faculty Senate Executive Committee will bring a resolution to the full senate today, criticizing the LSU Board of Supervisors for canceling two days of classes on the Baton Rouge campus last month in observance of LSU’s appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans.
The resolution, which will be introduced at the senate’s monthly meeting today but not voted on until March, also calls on the board to develop a “reasonable policy” for canceling classes in the future “so as to minimize disruption, serve the interests of all students … and preserve the dedication of the University to its principal tasks … ”
Though canceling classes on Jan. 13-14 was, arguably, the most popular thing the Board of Supervisors has done in recent memory—at least among students and football fans—faculty members opposed the move, not only because it was disruptive to the academic calendar but because it was done haphazardly at the January 10 Board of Supervisors meeting and initially caused confusion on other campuses in the LSU System.
The resolution notes that “the Board did not find it appropriate to follow its own Bylaws to refer this matter to the Academic and Research Committee for their recommendations. … ”
It also says canceling classes for a sporting event “sends a message to students, faculty, Louisiana citizens and the nation that intercollegiate sports can and should preempt the academic activities defining LSU’s core mission. … ”
The LSU faculty went on record at the Jan. 10 Board of Supervisors meeting opposing the cancellation—twice, in fact; once, before a board committee approved it, then later in the meeting before the full board voted on it. Both times the board respectfully acknowledged the concerns and approved the cancellation anyway.
What makes faculty members think this resolution will be taken any more seriously by the board?
“One, it will certainly get some attention in the sports culture here and signals to the Board of Supervisors that their behavior is out of line with the mission and purpose of the university, which is education,” says professor Kevin Cope, a member of the faculty senate executive committee and former faculty senate president. “Two, it will establish a record and, three, it will show the faculty that its leadership is willing to speak out on its behalf against such an outrageous action.”
LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Mary Werner did not respond to a request seeking comment.