The University Record, November 16, 1998
I firmly believe that the community should know and understand the basis for University decisions. I therefore want to make a brief statement about an important issue of freedom of expression and University governance that has been raised by the proposed naming of a room in East Quad for Professor Carl Cohen.
About six weeks ago, I learned for the first time about the matter. After discussion with many people, it became clear that the proposed naming raised several difficult problems. Most significant was that there had not been a proper review. This was not a mere technical oversight but rather involved exclusion of individualssignificantly, student representatives within the residence hallfrom the decision.
Since October 1997, University Housing has had a clear policy specifying the procedures for naming spaces within residence halls throughout the campus, including East Quad. The policy* establishes several steps to the process, beginning with referral to the Office of the CORE or building manager . . . and the resident government organization. Criteria for naming are set forth. Inadvertently, to be sure, this process had not been followed.
The Residential College, or any other University unit, may pursue the naming of housing space or any other honor in accordance with University procedures. Professor Tom Weisskopf, director of the Residential College, who has acted in the most thoughtful and sensitive way possible during this matter, is exploring ways of honoring Professor Cohen that would reflect Professor Cohens longstanding contributions to the Residential College. I fully support Professor Weisskopfs efforts.
I do not want to understate the complexity of the standards by which the University should recognize and honor individuals. I want to make clear, however, that I will not permit this question to be decided on the basis of whether Professor Cohens views coincide with my own or the Universitys. Participation in public debate must not disqualify one from recognition or honor by the University. This University promotes free and open discourse. I reaffirm that commitment.
University Housing procedures for facility naming opportunities generally apply to previously unnamed space, and a supplement to the University Policies and Procedures for Naming Opportunities, managed out of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
Various lounges and rooms within Housing buildings have been named for the following reasons:
A) Individuals who have provided extraordinary service to the University and student housing (Ostafin Lounge, 1986),
B) Recognition posthumously for exemplary service as a resident through employment, leadership or service within University Housing (McGreaham/Siwik Lounge, 1982), or
C) As a means of promoting multicultural understanding (Caesar Chavez Lounge, 1995).
With the support of those we serve, University Housing seeks to continue these traditions. Recommendations for the naming of interior space are initially referred to the office of the CORE or building manager, and the resident government organization, within the building under consideration. If supported by both, the recommendation, including a budget for funding alterations (if any) to the space, should then be submitted to the Director of Housing for further consideration. The Director will seek endorsement from the Residence Halls Association and if supported by both, the recommendation will then be referred to the Vice President for Student Affairs. With the Vice Presidents support, the recommendation will then be submitted to the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, to seek authorization in compliance with the University policy.