Dallas, Texas (PressExposure) April 09, 2007 -- A new online petition charges that administrators at Southern Methodist University (SMU) have been attempting to silence faculty protest against the politically partisan institute that George W. Bush seeks to include in his presidential library complex. The petition invites faculty members and teachers everywhere to sign in support of the SMU faculty protesters, and in dissent against the Bush institute.
Posted April 7, the petition reports that SMUâs interim Provost has blasted faculty members for resisting the institute, for speaking to the press, for circulating petitions, and for not relying strictly and only on the Faculty Senate to voice concerns.
In addition, it claims that SMUâs President attempts to intimidate faculty members into silence by saying that if they protest the institute they will cause the university to lose the library, along with the loyalty of disappointed mega-donors.
Entitled "Books, Not Bombs: Say No to Bush Political Institute," the petition says it borrows language directly from another online petition launched April 5 by a group of 120 faculty members at SMU--formulated as an "Open Letter" that asks the president and trustees to decline the institute.
While President Bush requests an all-in-one package that includes the library, museum, and institute, he stipulates to SMU that the institute must be completely independent of any oversight whatsoever by the University.
But faculty members worry that the institute will borrow on the scholarly credibility of SMU in the Academy while remaining completely unaccountable. Research Fellows will be hired by the institute director to propagate the partisan agenda set by President Bush, faculty members say, but they will not be vetted through the same process as other SMU professors and researchers.
Both petitions say "a resounding ânoâ to locating a political institute on the campus of Southern Methodist University." Although President R. Gerald Turner wants to create joint faculty appointments between the institute and certain SMU departments, both petitions call for a complete fire-wall between the two institutions.
Build the presidential library and museum on campus, but build the institute off-campus lest it "create the public appearance of being an official academic unit of SMU." Otherwise it is likely, says one petition, to undercut the universityâs academic reputation, and its ability to attract certain high caliber faculty members and students.
The "Books, Not Bombs" petition, located at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/bushinstitute is open to a wide range of signatures from "those who teach (or administer) at university, college, high school, junior high, and elementary school levels, current and retired."
The Open Letter, along with a list of the 120 charter signatories, is located at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/120/petition.html and welcomes SMU signatures only.
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Defenders of Academic Freedom
Contact: Susanne Johnson, Ph.D.