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Letters to the Editor 1/18

Faculty Senate should consider students’ safety

I am appalled at the lack of care for student safety by the Faculty Senate. I don’t believe the total issue is academic freedom. Which is more important – academic freedom or student safety?While I do not personally know Sami Al-Arian, I do know that his presence on this campus is a threat to the security of the students. He may not be a terrorist, but those who wish to kill him are.What would the Faculty Senate be discussing if Al-Arian was allowed to teach, and someone decided to bomb his classroom, killing some students? There would be many angry parents wondering why this threat to their childrens’ lives was not dealt with.

The reason why universities are established is to provide an education. When the education of an individual is threatened, steps must be taken to ensure the security of the students. I believe USF President Judy Genshaft gave Al-Arian the chance to restore his career. She placed him on paid leave, waiting for the situation to blow over.

Instead, Al-Arian absorbed the spotlight, keeping his face in the media. As long as he and his political views are in the media, he is a danger to students. If you had a child, and he or she was a student of Al-Arian’s, would you want them to go to his class, knowing that there is a chance they could be injured?

While I know that there is a chance that a person could be struck by a car or hit by lightning, those are factors that are uncontrollable. This situation with Al-Arian is controllable, and Genshaft handled it correctly. I am all in favor of security over academic freedom. I would rather be safe in a class than hear what Al-Arian has to say.

Mrs. Genshaft, I applaud your decision. Faculty Senate, think about someone other than your own members for once.

  • Ryan Kennedy is a freshman majoring in chemistry.

    University faculty vote undermines safety

    Mr. Weatherford, I do not know you personally or professionally. However, I do respect you as an educator and administrator. I am very surprised and disgusted that the Faculty Senate would vote in favor of not terminating Sami Al-Arian. First of all, academic freedom does not serve some sort of higher priority than the safety and well-being of the student body and future students at the university.

    Secondly, how can a university representative and professor be objective when he states discriminatory remarks about an ethnic group? I am sure he has had students of Jewish descent in his classes. How does he treat them in respect to other students?

    If we had a professor such as David Duke (formerly a grand wizard of the Louisiana Ku Klux Klan), teaching at the university, there would be a justifiable outrage across campus. We wouldn’t hear this crap about academic freedom.

    Lastly, how has this situation affected those students who were once considering USF before this entire situation happened and now? I guarantee you it has not been very good. USF is a fine institution, but this situation is almost too much to stomach. If I had the resources to transfer from USF, I think I would probably consider it.

    • Jon Stapel is a sophomore majoring in biology.