My Grey City magazine story — Disciplining disruption: inside the high-stakes faculty debate

Grey City publishes long form journalism related to the University of Chicago.

My April 13th story dives into a crucial faculty debate about how disruptive protest should be punished by the administration.

The lede …

English professor and member of the faculty senate Elaine Hadley remembers a meeting when the University of Chicago’s faculty governing body was tasked with selecting fonts for the school’s letterhead. Those were simpler times.

These days, the faculty senate is in the thick of a complicated debate as it tries to decide how and when disruptive conduct will be punished at the University of Chicago. The upper administration in Levi Hall is eager for the University to establish a disciplinary system that could be used to sanction individuals who engage in speaker silencing, obstructive protest, and the like. It can’t create that system unilaterally, however, because the University’s statutes give the faculty senate jurisdiction to create rules pertaining to discipline for disruption.

The senate is nearing a May vote on a measure that would create a disciplinary system to respond to incidents of disruptive conduct. Levi Hall is now adding pressure by indicating to the senate that if the vote fails, the administration will instead revive a convoluted disciplinary system for disruptive conduct that hasn’t been invoked since 1974. This is according to several members of the faculty senate. A spokesperson said he would prefer not to speculate on what would happen in this scenario.

It is an ultimatum of sorts.

The Maroon spoke to a half-dozen senate members for this story—none of them were excited about the possibility of this outcome. Even the Provost’s office has indicated that it thinks the 1970s system, the “All-University Disciplinary System,” is flawed.

Last June, the Provost initiated this senate debate by charging a faculty committee to produce a report on how to “revise or replace the disciplinary procedures and standards set forth in the All-University Disciplinary System,” which “has seen little use due in part to cumbersome procedures.”

Link to the full story

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