It seems USF President Judy Genshaft’s attempt to pass the decision about what to do with Sami Al-Arian was in vain. According to a statement released last week, the American Association of University Professors is set to make a decision as to whether it should censure USF in June of 2003 regardless of a judge’s ruling.
USF media relations director Michael Reich says the potential censure is not a priority at this time because “Right now, we (the administration) are completely focused on addressing the Constitutional issues of the case, and that’s it.” However, the issue should be at the forefront of the administration’s agenda.
The censure of the university is a major concern to many students and faculty. Certainly the Al-Arian case has garnered much attention, and if wrongdoing is found on his part, he certainly should be held accountable.
However, the administration’s feeble attempts to cover up its own wrongdoings, namely its mishandling of this case and the proposed Al-Arian firing and subsequent decision to send the case to court, have been ridiculous. Genshaft should be as concerned with the possibility of a censure as she has been with kicking the Al-Arian case around for more than a year.
Censure could hold negative repercussions on the university at a time when it is seeing excellent growth, as well as community and national potential. Censure will harm the university’s academic reputation.
The stigma that comes with such a designation may make it difficult to garner research and donation dollars. Further difficulties may come when trying to attract the best students, and the AAUP’s decision could harm the hiring of the best teachers and professors, who may not want to be associated with a censured university.
The AAUP’s decision to move forward with its investigation should prompt alarm and concern from the Genshaft administration.
Yes, there are other issues on the table, but this is one of those issues that also deserves to be addressed. Passing the problems to other venues has not made any of them go away. Genshaft should realize that waiting to address this issue until it is too late is a mistake that USF cannot afford.