Faculty Senate searching for faculty observers

Rachel Abbey

Faculty Senate is looking for volunteers to act as faculty observers this year.

A faculty observer is a faculty or staff member who acts as a monitor at controversial student events, said Thomas Dowd, Faculty Senate chair and professor of psychology. Examples of such events include May 4 commemoration activities and Michael Moore’s speech last semester.

Observers attend the event and intervene only to help prevent activities from getting out of hand, Dowd said. They use verbal intervention and persuasion, not force.

Faculty observers simply serve as a calming influence, said Jerry M. Lewis, emeritus professor of sociology. They are not meant to prevent student protests.

Lewis trains faculty observers, and there are three parts. He said the first part focuses on a philosophy of non-violence, based on Gandhi’s teachings. Secondly, he gives general instructions on crowd mentality. Then, the faculty and staff members participate in a series of role plays, highlighting issues which could arise during an event.

The role plays are based on Lewis’ own experience as a faculty observer. He helped to organize the Faculty Marshals in 1968, a form of today’s faculty observers. This group was present for the activist activities and shootings of May 4, 1970, Lewis said.

All members are volunteers with a concern for student well-being, Lewis said.

Faculty Senate hopes to have 40 volunteers this year, Dowd said, most for work at the commemoration of the 35th anniversary of May 4, 1970.

Training will take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. March 29 in the Student Center.

Faculty and staff interested in being a faculty observer should contact Tess Kail at (330) 672-7822 by March 17.

Contact academics reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].