Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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St. Louis University Survey Designed to Explore Campus Tensions Results in Greater Discontent

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported that St. Louis University’s decision to survey faculty, students, and staff about the mood on campus has led to greater discontent among the already tense campus.

The university sent out a survey to the campus community on March 25, following faculty and student votes of no confidence in President Rev. Lawrence Biondi. In response, some faculty members complained that the survey fails to adequately ask questions about the embattled president.

“The survey fails to ask the difficult and meaningful questions,” said Ellen Carnaghan, chair of the political science department.

Of 23 questions, they point out that only one specifically mentions the president. Critics say they desired more questions focused on leadership at the university. Among the questions on the survey, they ask about university morale and if the faculty feels able to express dissenting views without the fear of reprisal.

“The survey seeks to provide the University’s Board of Trustees with a broad overview of three primary areas of interest and concern that have been expressed: communication, climate and voice (the ability to make suggestions for change,” said the University in a statement.

In response to the survey, a campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors announced that it may release a parallel survey that would replace general references to “the university” with “the president.”

That announcement has resulted in the university’s general counsel, William R. Kauffman, to send an email to the association warning that such a parallel survey could be a copyright infringement and warning that the university may file a lawsuit.

The association is now seeking assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union.

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