YSU profs circulate anti-war petition

The petition has gained support from administrators, faculty and adjunct faculty, its author said.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State University educators are circulating a petition opposing unilateral action against Iraq.
Dr. John Russo, who authored the petition, said he began the drive after executive members of the YSU faculty union declined to send a similar resolution to a vote of the full faculty earlier this week.
"At a time when there is a great deal of public apathy ... the faculty union took a position to squash the democratic process," Russo said.
No quorum
Robert Hogue, YSU union president, said Russo presented the resolution at a faculty union meeting in late January. Because there was not a quorum present, it could not be voted upon, Hogue said. If 10 percent of the union were present, a vote could have been authorized.
"My concern is we could have had 15 percent of the faculty voting on a resolution that would have the effect of having the union put on record in support of or against something," Hogue said.
He said the issue was discussed and the union's executive committee voted this week to send the resolution to its planning and research committee.
"There really isn't any procedure for official endorsements from our chapter of the union," Hogue said. "Our constitution and bylaws are silent on it."
The research and planning committee has been asked to come up with a recommendation on a procedure by April 15.
But Russo said that the executive committee's actions are a "smokescreen" and that he has seen many resolutions accepted by the union during his 20 years at the university. He also said he wanted the resolution sent to each faculty member for a full vote.
Comments at the January meeting became nasty before the resolution was tabled, he added. "It was very ugly," he said. "I don't think it's a very good sign for the university community in terms of public discourse."
Russo seeks signatures of YSU faculty and members of the faculty union, but said he also is receiving support from administrators and adjunct faculty members.
The resolution states support of men and women serving in the armed forces while opposing unilateral action against Iraq and urging President Bush to continue seeking a peaceful resolution.
In opposition to force, the resolution points to "costs in terms of human life," financial costs, budget constraints in Ohio and among its public schools and universities, and similar opposition by religious groups and by John Sweeney, national president of the AFL-CIO union.
He said members of the business school are signing because they are "voting their pocketbooks" and others are concerned about the state of Ohio.
Some, he said, decline signing for issues unrelated to war.
Says some are fearful
"What's sad about it," he said, "is that a number of people won't sign because they're scared of the FBI or the CIA."
Such fear, he added, has a silencing effect on a university community, which should be "a marketplace of ideas."

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