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IUSB faculty call for firing of university president over handling of protests


This week Indiana University South Bend became the first satellite campus where faculty have called for the termination of IU President Pamela Whitten.

The vote by IUSB's faculty senate comes after numerous faculty in Bloomington have formally called for Whitten to be fired over her handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations at Dunn Meadow. Around 60 people have been arrested this spring after the university secretly changed a longstanding policy that outlawed unregistered protests and called in state police.

The IUSB academic senate voted on two resolutions on Wednesday. The first called for the university to rescind its campus ban to everyone arrested. Then by a margin of 104 to 21, IUSB faculty called for IU trustees to fire Whitten.

There were 16 abstentions, meaning about 75% of IUSB's faculty cast a vote in the ballot.

Professor of anthropology Jay VanderVeen said IUSB faculty have had concerns about Whitten’s lack of transparency for a while, but the recent handling of the protests on Dunn Meadow prompted the body to convene a vote.

“People in tactical gear and a sniper on the roof of the Indiana Memorial Union — those are frightening escalations of a peaceful demonstration," said VanderVeen.

VanderVeen and other IUSB faculty say they feel Whitten's administration hasn't engaged in good faith conversations about strategic goals and plans for the South Bend campus in the past few years.

With its vote, IUSB faculty are the first at an IU regional campus to call for Whitten’s termination. Bill Feighery, a chemistry professor who is the vice president of the IUSB chapter of the American Association of University Professors, told WVPE he's glad IUSB took the lead as it's the largest regional campus.

"President Whitten had come out with a statement after the vote of no confidence saying she was willing to work with the faculty," Feighery said. "And the very first opportunity she gets, they have a secret meeting to change the policy about protests on Dunn Meadow."

The university's trustees this week put out another statement supporting Whitten and calling for a survey of the "campus climate."

“Our direct conversations with President Whitten and her leadership team make it clear that they, too, understand the challenges and are also committed to paving a productive path forward,” the statement read. “The Board of Trustees will provide all resources necessary to address these issues in a transparent and accountable fashion.”

Whitten has also been holding meetings with various schools and faculty at IU Bloomington in the past week.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.