Arianna Skibell

skibell What if I had done it differently? This is the question many graduating seniors are asking themselves. I fluctuate between thinking I’ve really maximized my Emory experience and feeling like I did not take enough advantage of the opportunities I was afforded. There are so many classes I wish I took, so many events I wish I went to. I should have seen more plays, gone to more exhibits in the Carlos Museum, participated more at Wonderful Wednesday and First Friday and even gone to more sports games (I did see one basketball game). But there were also a lot of things I did get to do. I loved many of my classes, I got to be a part of WMRE and edit their music and culture magazine, I got to work at the Green Bean with amazing people for three years, I got to produce a play with Theater Emory, I got to study theater in Oxford and Tibetan Buddhism with monks in Dharamsala. And perhaps most incredibly, I got to be a part of The Emory Wheel. The Wheel has defined my Emory career. I can’t imagine what college would have been like without it. I don’t think I would have found any other group of people on campus who consistently take multiple perspectives into account on every issue and conduct themselves in a spirit of open-minded inquiry. I truly believe that everyone that joins the Wheel and sticks with it embodies some of the best and the brightest minds at Emory. I know I’m biased, but where else do you find a group of college students so invested in the University, the politics, the history, the administrators, the arts, the culture, other student groups and even Emory sports. Almost four years ago, I was sitting in my freshman dorm room in Dobbs when I got an email from Evan Mah, who at the time I had only known as my mysterious Wheel correspondent who viciously edited my articles. Little did I know how important Evan would become in my life. The email said, “If you would like to be more involved at the Wheel, keep writing … Here are your edits.” At first I smiled and then I saw his edits. In November of my freshman year, I was asked to join the Wheel as Asst. Arts & Living Editor. I assumed I would be assistant editor until Evan graduated and then maybe by senior year I would be editor of the section, while still having plenty of time for an array of other extracurricular activities. I was woefully unaware that the better part of the next four years would be spent on the fifth floor of the DUC, arguing about headlines, cutlines, oxford commas, stacked columns and of course making ethical judgment calls. The Wheel tends to attract a diverse array of students. The paper provides an expressive outlet in the form of hard news, more creative feature pieces, humor articles and even our horoscopes. There is a place for the audiophile, the dance enthusiast, the opinionated and the sporty. We require people with knowledge of WordPress and social media campaigns, photography and copy-editing. On the business end, we need sales associates, managers and ad designers. There’s a place for every interest. The catch? We all have to come together and collaborate to create this 12 page work of art, not once, but twice a week. This means constant interfacing and working with someone who you’ve never taken a class with and probably never will. This means spending long hours in a small room with people who have completely separate social circles than you. The Wheel provides a unique opportunity for very different yet equally motivated and intellectually engaged students to work side by side to create something that is meaningful and something that serves our community in an incomparable way. Maybe I could have done things differently. But I’m so glad I didn’t. Arianna Skibell is from Atlanta, Ga. She is graduating with a BA in Psychology and Linguistics.

The Process Review Committee (PRC), which formed last spring to investigate the decision-making process that determined the department changes announced in September 2012, has concluded that College Dean Robin Forman and his predecessor Robert Paul did not violate College Bylaws, according to a PRC report released yesterday.

However, the official report, released to College faculty via email, also says that the current College Bylaws “do not contain clear and sufficient procedures for the closing, changing or reorganizing departments or programs.” The committee also concluded that communication errors occurred between the College administration and the affected departments and programs.

The report detailed several recommendations for moving forward, including a revision of the Emory College Bylaws to delineate a clear procedure for future department or program changes and a call for more transparency.

In September 2012, the University announced the “phasing out” of the Visual Arts Department, the Division of Educational Studies and the Journalism program, as well as the suspension of admission to a few Laney Graduate School programs. Many students and faculty reacted to the announcement with rallies, the formation of #EmoryCuts and the filing of several appeals and grievances, which detail alleged Bylaw violations and discuss the position cuts and departmental reassignments that will result from the plan.

The PRC, which was established on March 19, 2013 after faculty voted at a meeting to create an independent committee last January, included five faculty members: Matthew Bernstein, professor and chair of the Department of Film and Media Studies; Oded Borowski, professor of Biblical Archaeology and Hebrew; Scott Lilienfeld, professor in the Department of Psychology; Fred Menger, Charles Howard Candler professor of Chemistry and Gordon Newby, Goodrich C. White professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies and Chair of the PRC.

According to the official report, the PRC attempted to evaluate the role of the Emory College Governance Committee (GovCom) as well as the College Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC) — the committee that helped Forman determine which departments and programs would be affected — by interviewing deans, members of the affected departments and programs, reviewing public records and minutes and reviewing written communications to the committee.

“The committee worked very hard on its reports, and as a member of the committee, I participated in its interviews, deliberations and the production of the report,” Borowski wrote in an email to the Wheel. “Thus, needless to say, I am satisfied with the report and the conclusions included in it.”

The Committee members said in the report that they attempted to look at both the pros and cons of the department changes process in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the process and recommend a more effective system for the future.

“If anything has become clear to us,” the report says, “it is that greater faculty participation in governance and clearer, more effective communication between the Emory College Faculty and the College administration will alleviate, it not forestall, future difficulties of the sort we have recently experienced.”

Though, Forman wrote in an email to the Wheel that a balance must be struck between public and private discourse when making hard and important decisions.

“The process we followed was largely designed by the Faculty Governance Committee with the explicit understanding that the best decisions would result from a process in which many fundamental conversations would be confidential,” he wrote. “The report recognizes that we made decisions about process with the best interests of the College at heart, and with the best of intentions, but the committee believes that the process would have been improved with more of an emphasis on transparency. I take that recommendation very seriously.”

The report states that the Committee was unable to access some “potentially important areas of information” and so employed their “best judgment” concerning the process based on the available information.

More specifically, the PRC attempted to interview members of CFAC unsuccessfully, the report says. Although CFAC members sent the PRC a memo outlining aspects of their process, they declined to an interview on the basis that they have “grave concern over the precedent established by creating a faculty committee to ‘review’ the work of another duly created faculty committee…” and the “limits afforded by our promise to keep our conversations and advice to Deans Paul and Forman confidential,” according to the official report.

Associate Professor of History Matthew Payne, who proposed the creation of the PRC — also known as the Payne Committee — wrote in an email to theWheel that the report illustrates a lack of transparency, “as many of us suspected,” as well as a breakdown in communication between administrators and affected programs and departments.

“Clearly, the Emory Bylaws are so murky on this subject that it is impossible to say whether they were or could be contravened by the way the administration acted,” Payne wrote.

Still, David Armstrong, senior lecturer in the Journalism program, said, “it’s a shame that the committee didn’t bother to become more familiar with the facts.” Armstrong is one of the faculty members who has signed appeals and a grievance against the University’s decision to not renew his contract as a result of the department changes.

“They did not take advantage of the opportunity to speak to many people who are most familiar with these matters despite numerous offers,” Armstrong said. “They are also wrong on many of the basic facts of the case.”

Faculty and the Department Changes

The PRC expressed in the report an understanding of the delicate and emotional nature of the matter at hand. They explain their attempt to account for and control potential “hindsight bias” by recognizing that there is no easy way to “implement major cuts that do not displease many faculty members.”

The College administration made difficult decisions in “good faith and without malevolence,” the PRC concluded, while attempting to reduce the embarrassment of affected faculty members and lecture-track faculty. However, the PRC is not certain the strategy employed was the most efficient or transparent.

“From our interviews,” the PRC states in the report, “we sense that an enormous residue of resentment remains, and many or most affected department/programs believe that they were treated unfairly.”

They state that the College administration chose to “[pull] the Band-Aide off quickly” rather than allow the news of the department changes to sink in slowly during a longer period of time.

Many affected members said in previous interviews with the Wheel that they did not see the department changes coming and that Forman’s University-wide email announcement was the first they had heard of any impending changes.

Although College administrators conveyed to the PRC during interviews that they feel they communicated adequately with the affected departments and programs, the PRC found that affected faculty staunchly disagreed.

“We believe that the lack of transparency in some of the decisions has contributed to a lingering sense of resentment in the affected programs, as well as an understandable sense of trepidation in many non-affected programs…” the report states.

The PRC’s Recommendations

The lack of transparency in the process led the committee to delineate four central recommendations for future interactions between the College and the College administration.

The PRC recommends that more concrete Bylaws be written to clearly outline the criteria — who, when, why and how — used to evaluate a department or program. The Bylaws should explicitly state whether or not faculty members should be consulted prior to major department or program changes, according to the report. The report also states that these Bylaws should also determine whether such department changes can be done in confidence, or to what extent the affected department or program should know about the procedure.

The Committee stated in the report that the procedure for future department or program changes should include a clear step-by-step outline that dictates who evaluates a program, how the program should be consulted and notified, the length of time involved in the process and what criteria will be used to in these evaluations.

In the case that a department or program is cut due to inaccurate information, a clear process of appeals should be established. Ideally, the PRC states, under no circumstances should faculty in a department or program experience the surprise that was described during this review process.

“If departments and programs are cut with little or no certitude of problems, this can inadvertently contribute to an atmosphere of fear and paranoia on campus,” the report says.

Additionally, the PRC sees room for improvement between Emory College faculty and University faculty relations. Due to the job uncertainty and unequal avenues for appeal afforded to both non-tenured faculty and lecture-track faculty, the PRC recommends that College faculty find effective ways to connect University governance processes with College governance processes, according to the report.

The PRC also thinks that a concrete understanding of Emory College’s vision for a liberal arts mission is essential. Forman, the PRC concludes, seems to have a clear, yet informal, vision of the liberal arts at Emory, as he lists Chinese Studies and New Media Studies as important parts of the College’s future.

However, this vision has not been formally agreed upon and may not be shared by the rest of the College community. The PRC recommends that conversations continue with the aim to define what a liberal arts education entails.

“Although we harbor no illusions that such a process will lead to complete agreement, we are confident that it will help us better understand our complex character as a liberal arts college in a major research university,” the report says.

Executive Editor Jordan Friedman, News Editors Dustin Slade and Karishma Mehrotra and Asst. News Editor Stephen Fowler contributed reporting.

— By Arianna Skibell

To the Emory Community,

Last week, the Wheel broke the news through a Facebook post that members of College Council (CC) secured comedian and actor Maulik Pancholy for their Culture Shock event on Nov. 9. Understandably, CC representatives were frustrated that the Wheel released this information before they had a chance to execute a publicity strategy.

CC representatives asked us to take down the Facebook post and to hold the article until they released the news first. We declined. And after much back and forth, CC representatives declined to speak with Wheel reporters about Pancholy or Culture Shock in general.

The Wheel’s decision to run with the story and refusal to remove the Facebook post may seem like an illogical and ego-driven decision. CC representatives’ refusal to speak with us about Culture Shock has prompted us to clarify our role in the community. Clearly, we have not been transparent enough with our internal processes or the rationale behind certain decisions.

I would like to take this opportunity to share with our readers a little bit about how and why the Wheel makes certain decisions.

The purpose of the Wheel, or any news organization for that matter, is to accurately and honestly inform the public. Our perception of reality informs our decisions. And if our perceptions are inaccurate, our decisions will be misguided. It is the job of the newspaper to provide the honest facts that shape our reality and help us make the best decisions possible. For example, the Wheel’s coverage of the department changes in fall 2012 provided the community with in-depth information about the situation that was otherwise not available.

A journalist’s dedication to the truth can do more than just inform his or her readers, however.

An honest and comprehensive article has the potential to influence great political and social change. For example, in 1997, journalist Sonia Nazario published a series called “Orphans of Addiction,” which followed the lives of children whose parents were drug addicts. This piece led to systemic reforms in the way child abuse is handled.

Even though we are reporting on the Emory community and not, for example, the U.S. government, the decisions we make every day have consequences. A factual error in the Wheel has the potential to seriously damage someone’s reputation or career. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we have a system in place to ensure consistency and ethical practice. Accordingly, the Wheel has certain guidelines, which are reflective of the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) code of ethics, to guide our decision-making and practices. The Wheel aims to seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be  accountable.

When a Wheel reporter heard that CC members secured Pancholy for Culture Shock, he or she first aimed to seek the truth by verifying the information with two reliable sources within CC, as is consistent with Wheel policy. The CC sources, who verified Pancholy’s involvement with the event, asked to remain anonymous. And although we try to veer away from using anonymous sources — which asks our readers to trust our judgment without giving them all the facts — we granted these CC sources anonymity in order to minimize harm: attributing this information might have compromised their positions within CC.

Once the information was public, we could not remove the post without compromising accountability. If Wheel editors verified that someone deep within the administration committed a felony and published it on Facebook, I’m sure many administrators would ask we take it down. In this scenario, it is clear that the post, if true, should remain on Facebook. So where do we draw the line?

Perhaps these rules seem arbitrary or unrealistic, but they are the rules that have guided ethical and successful journalists for years. We at the Wheel intend to do all we can to remain ethical, honest and as transparent as possible. We believe these guidelines will ensure we accomplish this goal.

If you would like an explanation for any Wheel decision or policy, please do not hesitate to email Editor-in-Chief Arianna Skibell at

If the price of an Emory education was not approximately $200,000, but rather the cost was running away from your family, embarking on a treacherous hike through the Himalayas and braving numerous encounters with Chinese and Nepalese police, it’s hard to imagine many students would pay the price. This is not the case for Tibetan Buddhist monk Sonam Choephel.

Sonam is one of the six Tenzin Gyatso Science Scholars beginning his studies at Emory University as part of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative.

After completing work in various scientific courses, Sonam and his fellow monks will return to India to further the Tibetan Buddhist community’s understanding of modern science.

Slight of stature, Sonam speaks slowly and deliberately. He has a shaved head, as is customary for Tibetan Buddhist monks, and wears the traditional deep-red colored robes.

The prevalent stereotype of severe, strict monks and nuns quickly fades away as soon as Sonam begins to speak. He makes jokes and laughs easily and frequently.

Sonam was born in a small village in eastern Tibet called Wri. One of seven children, he spent his days leisurely.

“My childhood was not very interesting,” he said. “I just spent the whole time in that small village just doing nothing at all … just playing with my friends. No schooling or education.”

As an adult, Sonam understands that the Chinese government’s control of Tibet led to the oppression of his family.

But as a young boy, he was less aware of Tibet’s political situation. He recalls that his parents did have a photograph of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but that it was hidden away.

Less concerned with politics, Soman longed for an education; he was 14 and illiterate.

“At that time we had many people leaving for India,” Sonam said. “We had heard that the Dalai Lama was in India and that there was education there.”

Sonam’s uncle Yonten, to whom Sonam felt very close, was a monk in a local monastery.

Although the monastery provided some education — in the form of Buddhist prayers and teachings — neither Sonam’s parents nor Yonten advocated that he join.

“My uncle sometimes used to tell me that it is good to join a monastery in India because they have these education systems,” Sonam explained.

The only way to receive a decent education, Sonam decided, was to travel to India and join a monastery.

One fateful day in 1992 Soman was visiting his uncle Yonten at the local monastery when Yonten had to leave unexpectedly.

“I don’t remember where he was,” Sonam said. “[But] I was alone in his monastic house.”

At that moment, Sonam and his friend decided they should leave for India immediately.

“My friend who was running away [with] me could write a little bit in Tibetan,” he said. “So when we left, I left a short note for my parents that I was leaving … and then I ran away.”

Sonam and his friend embarked on what would become a treacherous journey to India.

First stop: Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

The trip to Lhasa was made primarily by bus and sometimes walking, Sonam said.

Once they arrived, the two spent a couple months roaming around. When Sonam’s parents discovered he was in Lhasa, they sent a letter asking him to come home.

“My father wrote in the … letter, if you don’t come back to home mother is very worried,” he said. “And she has already fallen sick worrying about you.”

Although Sonam felt conflicted and saddened by this news, he was determined to find a way to India.

Fortunately, the tide turned in his favor when his father sent a second letter.

Not only was Sonam’s mother feeling better, but she and his father had also found a guide to assist Sonam on his journey to India.

“So my father sent some money with [the guide] and also a letter saying I should go to India with him,” Sonam said. “I wanted to see His Holiness, I wanted to join a monastery [to] get some education.”

Sonam and a group of 20 Tibetans began their journey by each paying the guide 500 Chinese dollars and boarding a bus to Shigatse.

After six long hours, the group arrived in the city and spent the night. The next morning, they hopped into the back of a truck, which took them to a large forest.

“It was still day time, so we stayed in the forest waiting for it to get dark,” Sonam said. “When it was dark we started our long journey walking.”

The trek from the forest, through the Himalayas, to Katmandu, Nepal, took about a month on foot, Sonam said.

And as they approached the border between China and Nepal, almost free, Sonam heard the sound of gunshots and dogs barking.

The Chinese military personnel — security guards — had spotted them and were pursuing them with guns and dogs.

Frightened, the group ran as fast as they could, hoping to escape.

Luckily, the security guards were not as determined as the group.

“We just ran and ran and finally got away,” Sonam said. “It was very scary.”

This was not the last of the group’s run-ins with military officials.

Once they arrived in Katmandu, the group came across a Tibetan monastery on the outskirts of the city.

“We reached there in the morning and the monks were very helpful,” Sonam said. “We were tired and hungry. They cooked us food and gave us some fresh new clothes.”

A few nights later, Sonam and his traveling companions were dining in a very small town in a dark restaurant when of group of five to six men in uniforms appeared.

The men said they were Nepal police and had come to send the group back to China.

“[I was] very scared,” Sonam said.

The police started to converse with each other, arguing between themselves about what to do with the Tibetan refugees.

Sonam’s guide noticed that the men did not carry guns – a clear signal that these men were not police, but instead charlatans looking to be bought off.

While the fake police were speaking amongst themselves, Sonam’s guide gathered his group to explain his realization.

“Now get ready,” the guide said. “When I say run, everyone should run.”

One of the Nepalese men approached the group of Tibetans, saying that he took pity on them. If they paid the police, he would let them go.

“Run!” the guide cried, and Sonam and his friends scattered.

“We kind of shouted at these people [and ran],” Sonam explained. “They were just hoping to get some money.”

However, the last time Sonam was stopped, he was not so lucky.

“The third time we were … caught by real Nepal police,” Sonam said.

Sonam and his friends were walking on a small road along the bank of a river. The river was on one side and a large rock wall on the other. When the police came upon the group, there was nowhere to run.

“They had their guns and actually showed us their badges,” he said. “They were real.”

Sonam laughed and said, “That time we had to pay them.”

The Nepal police took what little money Sonam and his friends had, as well as their watches and some nice jackets.

“Luckily, some money we hid in our shoes, so they didn’t find it,” Sonam explained. “Somehow they let us go.”

It was not long after that Sonam arrived at the Tibetan reception center in Nepal. He was soon on his way to Delhi, India, where freedom was waiting.

Immediately upon his arrival, Sonam traveled to Drepung Loseling Monastery in southern India, where he took his vows to become a monk and began his life-long pursuit of education.

“My grandparents really wanted me to join a monastery,” he said. “My uncle, he had much influence on me I think. I just wanted to become a monk. So I did it.”

In the monastery, Sonam learned to read and write. He also became interested in science, participating in two science programs (Science Meets Dharma and Science for Monks), which prepared him for Emory.

Many monks in Sonam’s monastery, and other monasteries across India, were eager to attend Emory as part of the University’s Emory-Tibet Partnership. Sonam was one of six selected.

“I’m not sure how I was chosen,” he said. “I just got lucky.”

Since arriving at Emory, Sonam has expanded his scientific knowledge, as well as his understanding of American culture.

“Here people keep a planner,” he said. “This is really interesting for me. We don’t do that. Personally I don’t have this habit to keep a planner or, you know, do things on time. So this is really very helpful.”

There are many differences between Tibetan Buddhism and modern science, Sonam maintains, but also many similarities.

“In one of the scriptures the Buddha said his followers shouldn’t just follow his concepts just because he is Buddha, because he is the teacher,” Sonam said. “His followers should analyze and examine his concepts. So this is, I think, a big similarity, which I find interesting.”

In the next few years, Sonam and his fellow monks will continue studying modern science, examining the intersection of eastern and western thought.

Although Emory’s environment is very different than what Sonam is used to, he is excited to delve more deeply and continue his education.

“We are busy, but in a good way,” he said. “We are learning science.”

— By Arianna Skibell

Photo courtesy of Sonam Choephel

Irish poet, playwright and lecturer Seamus Heaney, who has had a relationship with Emory University for more than three decades, died last Friday. He was 74.

Heaney’s death was announced in a statement released by his family and his publisher on Aug. 30.

The statement did not include the cause of death, but according to a recent article in The Washington Post, Heaney’s health had been failing since he suffered a stroke in 2006.

Heaney’s relationship with Emory began in 1981 when he delivered his first reading on campus, according to an Aug. 30 article in the Emory Report.

In 1988, Richard Ellmann, Emory’s first Robert W. Woodruff Professor, handpicked Heaney to act as the first lecturer for the Richard Ellmann Lecturers in Modern Literature, said Joseph Skibell, professor of Creative Writing/English and the director of the Ellmann Lectures.

The Ellmann Lectures have since become an Emory tradition, securing renowned writers such as Umberto Eco and Margaret Atwood.

Heaney spoke at the Emory Commencement in May 2003. Emory’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL) also obtained a large amount of Heaney’s literary work that year, including manuscripts, lecturers, photographs and letters.

In addition, his prolific work forms a cornerstone in Emory’s modern literary collections, according to MARBL Director and Vice President and Secretary of the University Rosemary Magee.

“One of the major distinctions of Emory University is our commitment to literature through renowned scholarship, extraordinary writers and teachers, highly-regarded lecture and poetry series, and our special collections,” Magee wrote in an email to the Wheel. “Seamus Heaney contributed to all of these dimensions — and more.”

Heaney is known for his prolific bodies of poetry and other work, including Death of a Naturalist, The Spirit Level and Human Chain. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Magee said Heaney was not only an accomplished poet but also a beloved and engaged member of the Emory community.

“We considered him to be a friend and a colleague, someone who honored us with his poetry,” she wrote.

Geraldine Higgins, associate professor of English and director of the Irish Studies Program, will curate an exhibit of Heaney’s work in 2014.

The exhibition, entitled “Seamus Heaney: The Music of What Happens,” celebrates Heaney’s life and poetry, exploring the intricate interplay of poetry and politics that resides throughout his work, Higgins said.

“The Music of What Happens will invite Heaney’s readers, friends and admirers to follow the trajectory of his work from the earth-bound bog poems of his early career to the lightness and airiness of ‘crediting marvels’ in his later work,” Higgins wrote in an email to the Wheel.

Heaney’s prolific work has been an inspiration for Emory students throughout the years.

College junior Robert Weisblatt, who is majoring in English with a concentration in Irish Literature, considers Heaney a voice that transcends the bounds of various historical events in modern Irish history.

“He incorporates the vastness of these struggles into all of his works in different ways,” Weisblatt commented in an email to the Wheel. “Yet he did so in such an artful and subtle manner that it allowed him to be a voice that could carry throughout the literary communities of countries all over the world.”

Weisblatt said he believes Emory will feel this loss gravely.

However, he maintains that this tragedy will lead the Emory community to be more enthusiastically engaged with Heaney’s work and appreciate his admirable life.

Heaney is considered by many as one of the most prominent poets of the 20th century.

“Heaney’s poetry is a gift to the ages, not just to the Irish literary canon,” Higgins wrote. “We will always have the wonderful poetry even though we have lost the great man … I can’t think of any other person, let alone any other writer who is so beloved around the world. Ireland is grief-stricken, and we all know that we will not see his like again.”

The first of nine children, Heaney was born in 1939 in Castledawson, United Kingdom.

Heaney attended Queen’s University Belfast where he studied English Language and Literature.

In 1962, he began to publish his poetry. In 1965, he published his first book entitled Eleven Poems.

“[Heaney] was a fearless poet,” Skibell wrote in an email to the Wheel, “unafraid to confront any subject with — in the words of William Butler Yeats, Ireland’s other Nobel-Prize winning poet — a cold eye, meaning absolute moral honesty and an equally moral precision of language.”

Higgins explained that many students have been in contact with her and her colleagues, expressing their sadness over Heaney’s death and sharing their fond memories they have of him.

Those who knew him are deeply saddened.

“He once told me in a conversation at his home in Dublin that he felt humbled by the sacred work of the poet,” Magee wrote. “We all felt touched by his openness and the profound depths of his poetry, which is why we grieve his loss even as we celebrate his life and work.”

— By Arianna Skibell

To read the grievance, click here.

To read the Grievance Committee’s response, click here.

A group of 18 faculty members filed a grievance to the College’s Grievance Committee earlier this month, claiming that the process that led to the department changes announced last semester violated faculty bylaws and governance principles. The Grievance Committee has since ruled that it does not see reason to take further action on the issue.

All of those who signed the grievance are part of departments or programs affected by the cuts. The 13-page grievance, obtained by the Wheel last week and dated April 4, is the first document to specifically detail all of these alleged violations.

The document reveals numerous claims about the elimination of departments and programs in the College as well as the decision to suspend admissions to several programs in the Laney Graduate School. It was released amid ongoing controversies between College faculty and the administration over the process resulting in these changes.

The grievance — citing Emory bylaws, minutes from Faculty Governance Committee (GovCom) and faculty meetings, letters sent to administrators and governing principles — asks the Grievance Committee to recommend that the University void the cuts and “affirm the primacy of the Bylaws.”

The document illustrates concerns about a lack of transparency in the University’s decisions, including a limited amount of faculty involvement and issues surrounding the activities of the College Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC). CFAC is a subcommittee of the Faculty Governance Committee (GovCom) and was responsible for helping College Dean Robin Forman evaluate departments in the multi-year process that culminated in the cuts. All members of CFAC resigned from the committee last month.

However, in an April 14 response to the grievance signed by Sheila Cavanagh, a professor of English and the chair of the College Grievance Committee, the Grievance Committee wrote that it “does not have any recommendations to make at this time.”

In addition to Cavanagh, the College Grievance Committee consists of three faculty representatives each from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences and math.

In the two-page Grievance Committee response — also obtained by the Wheel last week — Cavanagh wrote that the Grievance Committee does not hold the responsibility of hearing grievances pertaining to the graduate school or University. Those aspects of the grievance were therefore not addressed.

In addition to recommending that the University void the program eliminations and position cuts, the grievance contains a section devoted specifically to the program admissions suspensions in the Laney Graduate School, stating that a lack of communication and failure to abide by proper governance procedures also took place in that school’s process.

The Grievance Committee, in its decision, responds solely to two sections of the grievance, the first of which states that the administrators involved in the department changes process failed to follow articles in the University Bylaws and College Faculty Bylaws. The other section consists of four requests — three of which the Grievance Committee denied — present at the end of the document.

Other claims that were documented in the grievance but not acknowledged in the Grievance Committee’s response include the ideas that CFAC “operated in secrecy and was not accountable to GovCom or the faculty at large” and that GovCom was essentially excluded from the process and did not receive a report from CFAC in the crucial seven-month period during which many of the decisions about the cuts were made. The grievance also states that CFAC’s activities were kept secret from the faculty.

In a statement to the Wheel released soon after Cavanagh sent the grievants her findings, the grievants wrote: “The grievance speaks for itself. It documents the many violations of Emory rules, policies and Bylaws that occurred in pursuing the cuts. These violations represent a fundamental breakdown of University governance. The Grievance Committee’s response is deeply inadequate and fails to address the multiple violations. That failure significantly compounds the problem, demonstrating that Emory College faculty have no meaningful recourse when their rights are violated.”

Cavanagh, writing in an email to the Wheel that “the work of the grievance committee is confidential,” declined to comment. Several other members of the Grievance Committee also either declined to comment or referred all inquiries to Cavanagh.

The Faculty Bylaws state that the Grievance Committee is exempt from notifying GovCom of its activities and is not required to circulate a report of its actions to all members of the College faculty.

Jason Francisco, an associate professor in the visual arts department and one of the signatories on the grievance, wrote in an email to the Wheel that the bylaws do not grant confidentiality to the Grievance Committee.

“They simply say that the Grievance Committee does not have to report to GovCom and the chair does not have to report to the faculty as a whole,” Francisco said. “More to the point, the Grievance Committee is using this as an excuse to say they do not have to inform the grievants of the committee’s decision. That seems wrong.”

The Grievance Committee presented the faculty with its response in an email on Monday, April 15. Cavanagh wrote in the email, which contained an attachment with the Grievance Committee’s response, that according to “GovCom” — with no clarification on a specific individual  — that the bylaws do not require that GovCom or the College faculty receive information concerning the Grievance Committee’s recommendations.

“The bylaws very clearly state that your committee is [exempt] from any rules requiring communication to protect confidentiality, so the email would simply be a courtesy,” the email states.

Regardless, the Grievance Committee requested that the response be sent to the grievants, Cavanagh wrote in the email.

Stefan Lutz, the GovCom chair and an associate professor of chemistry, declined to comment.

The faculty grievance alleges that the elimination of University departments and programs represent “two critical violations” of the Emory University and College Faculty Bylaws. The first violation, according to the document, is that the cuts disregard “the faculty’s primary responsibility for curriculum,” especially given the fact that administrators have said that the cuts were not implemented for financial reasons.

The other is that the department changes violate GovCom’s responsibility to represent the faculty in governance matters.

Among the many other claims elaborated upon in the grievance is the University’s failure to adhere to the Statement of Principles Governing Faculty Relations, known as the “Gray Book.” For example, the Gray Book states that the Board of Trustees is permitted to discontinue an academic program under “extraordinary circumstances.” The grievance states that administrators have not cited such circumstances in implementing the cuts.

Responding to Four Requests

The grievance asks that the Grievance Committee respond to four requests, the first of which involved affirming the essential nature of the University Bylaws. In the Grievance Committee response, Cavanagh wrote that because the committee had already ruled on the presented issues, it “finds no cause to pursue this matter further.”

In the grievance, the faculty members also requested that the Grievance Committee “exercise its responsibility” as stated in the University Bylaws, and recommend that the University void the department cuts. The committee replied that it serves only the College and therefore cannot make recommendations to the University.

The third asks that because the bylaws call for the Grievance Committee to file its recommendations to the Dean or an “appropriate administrator,” that the committee submit its findings to Provost Claire Sterk given that Forman was directly involved in the cuts.

The committee, though, responded that it would communicate its findings to Forman, with a copy forwarded to Sterk.

The final recommendation was that the committee submit its response by the end of the spring semester. The committee did so.

Presenting the Claims

In regard to the claim that the cuts breach the faculty’s responsibility for curriculum, the grievance cites the University Bylaws that state that the faculty of any Emory school has jurisdiction over its educational programs.

The grievants mention a letter that Forman sent to the College community in announcing the changes on Sept. 14. The letter reads, “While our financial challenges add urgency to these decisions, these are fundamentally academic decisions.”

“As such, these decisions rightly fell within the jurisdiction of the faculty,” the grievance notes.

In the Grievance Committee response, however, Cavanagh wrote that the minutes of an Oct. 18 GovCom meeting — which took place almost a month after the cuts were announced — and an interview with Lutz on April 12 indicate that GovCom feels the decisions were “primarily programmatic ones,” though they “certainly have implications for the curriculum.”

As a result, she wrote, GovCom decided to receive faculty input partly through CFAC instead of through the Curriculum and Educational Policy Committees.

“We believe this was a reasonable decision,” Cavanagh wrote in the response, in reference to the Grievance Committee.

Another claim in the grievance states that the department changes process violates GovCom’s responsibility to represent the College faculty. A cited bylaw notes that the administration must consult with GovCom on matters that impact the College and its faculty, including but not limited to alterations to College programs and “the setting of priorities and goals for the College.”

“GovCom itself had no real understanding of the administration’s intentions until after the fact,” the grievance states. “As the record makes clear, the faculty did not decide to undertake this major change in curriculum. Rather, the College Office made the decisions and told GovCom about them afterward.”

Later in the document, the grievants allege that in the years following CFAC’s official establishment as a subcommittee of GovCom in 2008, the group failed to provide “full, accurate or detailed reports” to GovCom faculty representatives.

CFAC members had said they were granted confidentiality in their activities, according to the grievance, which would mean CFAC was “unaccountable to the faculty.”

Yet, in its response, the Grievance Committee quotes the minutes from the Oct. 18 GovCom meeting during which the issue of faculty input was revisited. According to the minutes highlighted in the response, neither GovCom nor CFAC has the authority to “make actual decisions about reorganization of resources within the College.”

GovCom, therefore, is “comfortable” with the process used to advise both Forman as well as former College Dean Bobby Paul, who first developed CFAC, according to the minutes.

In the response, the Grievance Committee states that these minutes and the interview with Lutz indicate that GovCom feels it was able to effectively provide input to Forman on the decisions, both directly and through CFAC.

While the Grievance Committee has said it would not respond to the issues surrounding the Laney Graduate School or the University, the grievance itself claims that problems existed in the ways that the graduate school decisions, much like the College decisions, were conducted.

The Executive Council — which, according to the Laney website, reviews proposals for “changes in existing courses or programs on a rolling basis” — was never consulted about the cuts, nor were the Directors of Graduate Study and the Laney Appointments Committee. Consultation with these groups is required as part of Laney’s governance structure.

Reactions and the Next Steps

While the grievance itself is not directly affiliated with the organization, some of the grievants are also members of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an organization that supports shared governance and academic freedom at universities across the United States.

The Emory chapter of the AAUP has been involved in investigating the department changes since the fall and has been in contact with the national AAUP office about the document.

Sharon Strocchia, a professor of history and the current president of Emory’s AAUP chapter, confirmed in an email to the Wheel that she has been in contact with the national AAUP office but does not have more information to add at this time.

Additionally, Gordon Newby, the Goodrich C. White Professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies and the vice president of the Emory AAUP chapter, wrote in an email to the Wheel that the local AAUP chapter is “trying to determine if there is a helpful role for the AAUP and, if so, what that might be.”

Walter Reed, the William R. Kenan University Professor and Director of Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts and one of the professors who signed the grievance, wrote in an email to the Wheel that he is unsure of what the next steps for these faculty members will be. He wrote that at this point, he believes the faculty group will “keep looking for some duly constituted court of appeal to hear the case, until there is one.”

He described the “brief and dismissive response” of the Grievance Committee as “irresponsible and insulting” because, he wrote, it did not attempt to address the numerous bylaw violations detailed in the grievance.

“What this response confirms for me is that the official avenues of grievance and appeal supposedly available to faculty who believe they have been unjustly treated are not really there,” Reed wrote. “They have rusted out. We need some new ones.”

Faculty signatories to the grievance included, from the journalism program, David Armstrong and Sheila Tefft; from the Institute of Liberal Arts, Walter Reed, Angelika Bammer, Kevin Corrigan, Sander Gilman, Anna Grimshaw, Sean Meighoo, Catherine Nickerson and Kimberly Wallace-Sanders; from the Russian program, Juliette Apkarian, Vera Proskurina and Elena Glazov-Corrigan; from the Department of Economics, Samiran Banerjee; from the Visual Arts Department, Jason Francisco and Julia Kjelgaard; and from the Division of Educational Studies, Robert Jensen and Carole Hahn.

— By Jordan Friedman

Editor-in-Chief Arianna Skibell contributed reporting.

Updated May 1 at 2:50 p.m.

Emory Professor of Law and Senior Fellow Michael Broyde admitted last Friday to creating a fake online identity, which he used to gain access to a rival professional rabbinic group and tout his own scholarly endeavors, according to an April 12 article in The Jewish Channel.

According to The Channel, Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser — Broyde’s pseudonym — has been an active and respected rabbinic voice for more than 20 years, frequently publishing in scholarly journals and often praising Broyde’s work. In addition, Broyde used Goldwasser’s name to become a member of the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF) — a rival to the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), of which Broyde is a member.

Broyde’s involvement in the creation of the online identity of Goldwasser was verified through his Emory University Internet Protocol (IP) address. Although the Goldwasser character claimed to be writing from a computer in Israel, his IP address matched that of Broyde’s Emory University computer.

Susan Clark, the associate dean for marketing and communications and chief marketing officer for the Emory University School of Law, wrote in an email to the Wheel in conjunction with Emory School of Law Dean Robert Schapiro that an inquiry will be conducted regarding this matter.

“The allegations regarding the conduct of Professor Michael Broyde are concerning to the Law School,” they wrote. “We are currently reviewing the matter and plan to issue a statement once our inquiry is complete.”

Broyde initially denied the accusation that he had created the fake identity, claiming that the pseudonym of Goldwasser was not his invention.

In a phone interview with The Channel, he claimed that Goldwasser was a teacher of his.

“Not my character … He’s a [teacher] of mine from many years ago who’s deceased [and moved to Israel] 10 years ago, or something like that, maybe more, I don’t remember,” he said.

Broyde wrote in an email to the Wheel that he is unavailable for comment about the allegations at this time.

After denying his involvement in the creation of Goldwasser, Broyde later admitted to inventing the character and apologized for having done so in an email, published in The Channel, to Barry Gelman, the former president of the IRF — the organization Broyde gained access to through the Goldwasser name.

In the email, Broyde stated that he realized becoming a member of the IRF through a fake character was an error in judgment.

“It is clear to me that my conduct was inappropriate, and I have regretted it for a while,” Broyde wrote.

Paul Wolpe, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Center for Ethics, said the specific circumstances surrounding Broyde’s use of the pseudonym violate standards of academic ethics.

“The Law School will have to determine the facts of the case and the proper response,” he wrote in an email to the Wheel. “In general, though, while the use of a pseudonym is not in and of itself wrong, submitting a piece to a professional journal under a [pseudonym] that is not disclosed at least to the editors, and using that opportunity to cite one’s own work, are clearly breaches of academic ethics.”

The RCA granted Broyde an indefinite leave of absence yesterday from his position as a judge with on Beth Din of America — the leading rabbinic court in America — due to his actions, according to an April 15 article in Tablet Magazine.

The president of RCA, Shmuel Goldin, expressed disapproval of Broyde’s actions in an interview with the Tablet.

“Broyde has admitted to behavior that the Rabbinical Council finds extremely disturbing,” he said. “We have determined and announced [through] the Beth Din of America … that he has ceased to serve as a [judge] immediately and indefinitely.”

Broyde’s biography can no longer be found on the Beth Din of America’s website.

In addition to writing a letter to Goldin, Broyde posted on The Hirhurim-Musings blog on Friday to explain his actions and apologize for his missteps.

He wrote that initially he felt he had to lie and deny his association with Goldwasser in order to protect his friend who joined him in using the pseudonym to write about Jewish law and policy.

“I felt that I had no choice but to temporarily deny any involvement until I consulted with my writing partner,” Broyde wrote. “…It was both silly and a mistake for me to lie to the reporter, and I hope I have learned from that.”

Broyde continued to apologize in the blog for his error in judgment.

“It was an error of judgment on our part to join any professional organization,” he wrote. “We did so in an era in which membership was not verified at all and no fee was charged, but it was still something that my own [teachers] would not approve of and thus I regret. I am truly and genuinely sorry for this.”

Deborah Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, said she hopes this error in judgment will not detract from all the good Broyde has done.

“All I would say is that, based on what Professor Broyde has already acknowledged, I think he made some serious mistakes,” she wrote in an email to the Wheel. “But I would hope that those mistakes would not completely overshadow the good work he has done over many years.”

Michael Berger, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in religion, acknowledged in an interview with the Wheel that “what [Broyde] did is certainly not how professional academics behave.” However, he said he is confident Broyde will take the necessary steps to move forward.

“It starts with recognizing one’s errors, acknowledging them and apologizing to those affected, which I know Professor Broyde has begun doing,” he said. “Next will be trying to make it up to those same individuals and organizations, and resolving to behave properly in the future, which I am confident Professor Broyde will do in the coming weeks and months. I hope that a time will come that he will be able to contribute once again to the fields of Jewish law and academic law in the ways he has in the past, having learned from his mistakes.”

— By Arianna Skibell

A Mediterranean-inspired comfort food restaurant is set to open in Emory Village in early to mid-February. With construction already well underway, Zoe’s Kitchen will be located directly across from the bookstore.

Zoe’s strives to offer its patrons fresh and delicious food for an affordable price, according to Zoe’s Kitchen’s Vice President of Marketing Rachel Phillips-Luther.

Most entrees are under $10. The majority of the menu includes items such as chicken salad, kabobs, tossed Greek salads and hummus and pita. The restaurant also offers gluten-free and vegetarian options.

“It is incredibly affordable for what you get,” Phillips-Luther said.

The concept of the restaurant stems from the real life of founder Zoe Cassimus. Cassimus was of Greek heritage and kept that in mind when she opened the first Zoe’s Kitchen in Alabama. According to the website, all of Zoe’s Kitchen’s recipes are family recipes.

With an emphasis on healthy food options, Zoe’s Kitchen prepares items fresh every morning. Poultry is never frozen, and the food is minimally processed, according to Phillips-Luther.

Zoe’s will offer take home tubs of pre-prepared foods in pint and quart sizes. For an additional charge, Zoe’s Kitchen offers reusable, cooler tote bags for the tubs.

Zoe’s will stay open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week and is planning to accept Eagle Dollars, Phillips-Luther said.

Some students are glad to hear about this new addition to Emory Village.

“It’s really great that the Village is trying to incorporate a more health-conscious places to eat,” Goizetta Business School junior Sonia Guzner said. “I’m excited to try it.”

Other students are more wary.

“It seems like there has been a lot of repetition in the types of restaurants around Emory’s campus,” said College senior Jefferson Sporn. “Doesn’t Zaya’s already serve Mediterranean food?”

According to Phillips-Luther, it was not easy to find a space in Emory Village.

“It was a tough deal for us to do, but we knew the community would really fall in love with Zoe’s,” she said.

Although the cost of repair of the building was initially out of their budget range, they felt Emory’s location was too critical to the success of Zoe’s to pass up.

“We’re also excited to be able to be a part of the rejuvenation of the area,” Phillips-Luther sad.

Zoe’s is looking to hire Emory students as well as non-Emory students. Students can apply online through Zoe’s Kitchen’s website.

— By Arianna Skibell 

The Alliance to Improve Emory Village (AIEV) is well on its way to finishing progress on the Emory Village Park. Located in front of Falafel King, the park is one aspect of AIEV’s $2.1 million Roundabout and Streetscape Construction project.

The last addition to the park will be a circular bench that will circumscribe the center tree, according to AIEV chair Todd Hill.

To mark the park’s near completion, the AIEV held a dedication ceremony on Nov. 8. More than 200 supporters came out to celebrate.

The creation of the park, designed by Hill, is the latest endeavor of the AIEV’s 12-year-long effort. Other aspects of the project to enhance Emory Village include creating the roundabout to ease traffic flow, planting more than 40 trees in the area and creating sidewalks to accommodate walkers, cyclists and wheelchairs.

The road to completion of the park was impeded when much of the park’s budget was used by DeKalb County, who partnered with AIEV in this project, to deal with unexpected problems with road construction in Emory Village, Hill explained.

“Our budget was [decreasing],” he said. “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing, which to me is the park … Let’s get this thing built.”

To combat their dwindling budget, AIEV began looking for other sources of income to support the park’s construction. They started a fundraising campaign, which included coupon books, letter writing to those is in the surrounding community and gatherings hosted at various friends’ houses in which a presentation was given about the park. Attendees were asked to donate.

Hill explained the latter two avenues brought in the most revenue. The University also donated to the cause, Hill said.

According to AIEV’s September 2012 Financial Report, a total of 144 donations were received that amounted to approximately $61,000. Hill said the final count was $70,000. Those who donated more than $500 will have their names appear on a plaque in the park. The plaque will be an aluminum cast, Hill explained, so there will be no new additions after it is made.

Many additions to the park were donated by locals who wish to support AIEV’s commitment to Emory Village. Ted Kelly, owner of Architectural Fountains and Pools, donated the fountain, which sits in the middle of the park and is named the Mary Kelly Fountain in honor of his wife and mother, both of whom are named Mary.

Designed and donated by Charles Calhoun, the 2,000-pound sculpture directly behind the fountain was created from an old Emory trolley unearthed during construction of N. Oxford Road. The original plan for the park did not include this sculpture, but after it was discovered, Hill decided to find some way to display it.

“We [had] to do something with this to recognize the history that was here,” he said. “That’s where [the rails] have been for decades, but now [they’re] in a slightly different spot.”

The fountain was built for sustainability in addition to aesthetic reasons, according to the AIEV’s website. Plants in the park, as well as other areas of the Village landscape, will be irrigated by the fountain water, which is recirculated from a nearby well.

Not only will the revitalization of Emory Village, including the park, allow the community to benefit, it will also provide a safer environment for students, Hill said. Apart from the established pedestrian crosswalks around the roundabout, the Village is now well lit.

According to the AIEV website, the basics of the Village revitalization plan include conserving the existing historical structures, rejuvenating the water systems and green areas around the Village, offering affordable housing in the Village, increasing traffic and parking efficiency and creating a welcoming sidewalk shopping location.

All road construction will cease with the completion of Zoe’s Kitchen, located across from the bookstore. In lieu of this, AIEV is starting to consider other ways to enliven the space, according to Hill. Before the construction began, most establishments held First Thursday events. On the first Thursday of each month, restaurants would stay open later and offer special deals. Hill said the AIEV is considering bringing back the event.

Hill expressed the desire for student feedback regarding First Thursdays and the possible establishment of new Village events.

Winner of the PEDS Golden Show Award for the Emory Village roundabout and “road diet” project, the AIEV is a nonprofit community organization run by volunteers from the Atlanta community.

— By Arianna Skibell 

Seven instances of rape have been reported in September and October of this year. Three took place in residence halls at Clairmont Campus, two in fraternity houses on Eagle Row and one in Harris Hall. An act of aggravated sodomy took place at an unknown location on campus.

All of the student victims were female, and most of the instances of rape occurred between August and October 2012, with the exception of one case that took place in spring 2011.

According to Emory Police Department (EPD) Lieutenant Cheryl Elliott, the two incidents of rape in fraternity houses took place at Sigma Nu and Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi).

In response to the allegations, the Sigma Nu fraternity wrote the following statement: “We at Sigma Nu take these allegations of rape very seriously. This is the first we have heard of this incident, and we plan to cooperate fully with the Emory Police Department and Emory University in their investigation. Our organization does not condone activities like this and intends to help the Emory Police Department ensure that our campus is safe for all members of the community.”

In a statement to the Wheel, Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity wrote: “We, Alpha Epsilon Pi, take this very seriously and are deeply disturbed by this allegation because we do not condone this behavior. We intend to cooperate fully with any investigation in order to get to the facts.”

Goizueta Business School senior and Interfraternity Council President Victor Rudo wrote in an email to the Wheel: “The Emory Greek community is built around respect for others, and allegations of sexual assault in any form run contradictory to our core values. IFC and our member organizations will continue to work with SAPA, the Respect Program and others in preventing and responding to these incidents.”

In addition, Dean of Students Bridget Guernsey Riordan said that “no person should ever feel unsafe or have any violence [inflicted] upon himself or herself on the Emory campus. We will do everything we can to investigate and will follow this up through the proper conduct and police channels.”

Approximately one in four women and one in 33 men will experience sexual assault during their college career, according to Lauren Bernstein, coordinator of the Respect Program.

“Sexual assault is an epidemic, but at Emory we do not believe this is inevitable,” Bernstein wrote in an email to the Wheel. “The Respect Program’s mission is to engage the Emory community to prevent sexual assault and relationship violence, and we envision a campus in which no student fears or experiences violence. As members of our community, we each have a role in ending sexual violence and supporting survivors.”

Bernstein added that the fact that students are reporting these incidents does not necessarily mean there is an increase in the number of rapes on campus, but that more students are coming forward.

The Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention is hosting an event called Rally and Speak Out on Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m. on the Quadrangle.

If you have been affected by sexual assault, abuse in a relationship or stalking, you have support at Emory. Contact Lauren (LB) Bernstein in the Respect Program in the Office of Health Promotion at 404-727-1514 or to schedule a confidential consultation.

— By Arianna Skibell 

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