We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It looks like the executive committee of the board of the City University of New York is going to convene on Monday to approve an honorary degree for the playwright Tony Kushner that the full board was not prepared to approve a week earlier. In announcing this dodge, CUNY’s chairman, Benno Schmidt, said it was necessary because the trustees had made an error of principle in declining to approve the degree for Mr. Kushner the first time around. But if principles are the issue here, what is the logic of the decision of a full board of trustees being overturned a few days later by a subset of the trustees?
On 5 May, CUNY released a statement that "The Board of Trustees is an independent board, and acted independently in exercising its judgment and authority."
I interpret this as "don't blame us, the university professionals, because we can't tell this board who to do".
Only now, they are going to convene the executive committee to overturn the decision. And all the press is saying that the results of this new vote will be to overturn it. I love it when the results of a vote are announced before it takes place.
I find this whole thing very odd. No one suggests that the power to grant a degree honoris causa rests with anyone other then the board, and yet when a college suggests granting a degree to someone with controversial politics and the suggestion is not rubber-stamped, it is somehow a great threat to academic freedom, free speech, and the honor of the institution.
If the trustees cannot make an independent evaluation about whether granting a degree honoris causa might damage the university, then there is not much point in having the board, is there?
It seems to me a pretty bad precedent to set that if the administration and faculty don't like a decision of the board that they work for, that the board can be pushed around until they come up with the right decision.