Changes Proposed to Dissent Policy
The following text is the current dissent policy in its entirety:
"Reed College considers the right of free speech, and therefore that of dissent to be fundamental to its life as an academic community. The exercise of the right of dissent is not something to be grudgingly tolerated, but actively encouraged. The boundaries to dissent stop at the point where the exercising of it, and the decisions accompanying the exercise, are denied to others. Accordingly, protests or demonstrations shall not be discouraged as long as neither force nor the credible threat of force is used, and so long as the orderly processes of the College are not deliberately obstructed. Physical obstruction, the credible threat, and use of force in the interest of dissent are things which cannot be tolerated in an academic community, and those engaging in it must be regarded as having violated conditions fundamental to the preservation of its integrity and of its very life.
"Further, at this College, such acts, striking at the heart of the community by denying it the functions for which it is organized, constitute a violation of the Honor Principle. Accordingly, persons proved by the judicial processes of the community to have engaged in such acts will be considered to have committed honor violations. (Adopted by the Community Senate and endorsed by the Faculty and the Board of Trustees in 1969. Reaffirmed by the faculty in 1986).”
Currently, Senate is pushing through edits to this policy, deleting the following sentences which establish direct tie to the Honor Principle:
“...and those engaging in it must be regarded as having violated conditions fundamental to the preservation of its integrity and of its very life.
"Further, at this College, such acts, striking at the heart of the community by denying it the functions for which it is organized, constitute a violation of the Honor Principle. Accordingly, persons proved by the judicial processes of the community to have engaged in such acts will be considered to have committed honor violations.”
The history of the dissent policy is racist, and the policy was directly created because of the first student sit-in organized by the Black Student Union in 1968. This protest was the first of its kind, and as a result, the dissent policy emerged. A policy, in a fairly naturalistic course of action, follows from the first emergence of a proposed policy’s violation. The racism, much like a glorious black tea, is steeped, unlike a tea, in the context, wording, and history of this dissent policy. The policy directly ties a violation of the dissent policy to the Honor Principle, effectively codifying it.
There are still things that should be changed about the dissent policy, but the problem with large policy changes like this is that they take at least four semesters.
First is the editing, for which all of senate needs to be present to argue over seemingly fickle differences in wording and grammar. Then there needs to be a series of discussions with Legislation Committee before the policy is sent to a faculty meeting for discussion and a vote can happen. The edits to the dissent policy have taken three full semesters to get to where they are now: close to a vote. Senate as we stand now wants to further edit the policy, and a number of faculty understand the that position. Senate is now on the clock; the current revisions are going to a vote on March 4, and professors are unlikely to vote through the kinds of sweeping changes Senate would like to make before the policy is left alone for another fifty years.