This newsletter of mine is starting to become a blog about a political assault on higher education in the United States. You might be getting tired of the topic, or at least tired of me pecking on the keyboard about it. I’m sorry. But not sorry enough to stop. So let’s take a trip to Louisiana …
The Louisiana State University Faculty Council voted by a margin 90% - 10% in favor of a vaccine mandate at the end of May, 2021. In late August, in the context of a new academic year, a football session, and surging cases in the state as the Delta variant wreaks havoc on the southern united States, new LSU president Bill Tate implemented a mandate. Along with all faculty, students, and staff, anyone going to an LSU home football game would have to show proof of vacation or a negative test.
This all comes in the context of a heated national debate. On September 9th, President Biden announced a set of measures by the federal government to encourage, and in many cases mandate, vaccination. Several Republican elected officials and candidates swiftly called for coordinated resistance to Biden’s effort, including civil disobedience, acting like those who don’t want the COVID vaccine are members of protested class whoes civil rights are being violated by a totalitarian government. The nationalization of vaccine politics as part of the general partisan battle that continues show up on campus. And the politics are getting rough.
At LSU, the Board, apparently in opposition to the vaccine mandate and dissatisfied with the role faculty contributed to its implementation through formal faculty governance, sought to abolish the Faculty Council. I learned about this extraordinary development on Twitter. LSU professor Robert Mann provided a link of the draft resolution, which eliminates the Council and establishes that a LSU-wide faculty resolution or input can come only at the request of the university president (that is my impression anyway).