Voter Suppression at GW

Apparently there is more than one president in Washington, DC, who tries to get his way by suppressing votes, undermining institutions, and flouting established procedures of democratic decision-making.

Over six-hundred faculty have registered for the Faculty Assembly taking place this Wednesday (Nov. 18) from 4-5:30PM. We have encouraged faculty to do so to support a measure directing the Senate to conduct a rigorous survey of faculty views of the LeBlanc administration.  We still hope that everybody will attend the assembly, but we may call for faculty to stage an electronic walkout shortly after it begins.

Why the possible walkout? Read on…

President LeBlanc has indicated he plans to hide behind the Senate Parliamentarian rather than respect our institutions of shared governance. On Friday (Nov. 13) the Faculty Senate informed us that the Senate Parliamentarian may prevent us from voting at the meeting, although our right to vote at the assembly is clearly specified in GW’s Faculty Organization Plan. The Faculty Organization plan specifies the Senate and the Faculty Assembly as two bodies of shared governance at GW, and also specifies that the Faculty Assembly may direct the senate to conduct surveys, such as the one being proposed (Art II, section 4.2). 

Undoubtedly at the behest of President LeBlanc, the Senate Parliamentarian has asserted that we will only be permitted to vote if the Assembly passes a motion to “suspend the rules, to allow online voting” by unanimous consent at the outset of the meeting. This means that a single dissenting faculty member may prevent the 599+ other faculty from exercising our voting rights. In fact, as multiple Faculty Senators have also noted, there is nothing in the Faculty Organization Plan prohibiting online voting or specifying that voting must be in person. Many of us will recall that faculty at GW’s Virginia Campus have participated in past Faculty Assemblies electronically. 

Indeed, according to the Parliamentarian’s distorted logic, there can be no faculty governance at all during the pandemic. While the US Congress, the DC Council, the Virginia House of Delegates, and virtually all other governing bodies and universities in the US have navigated the move to online voting, apparently the GW Faculty Assembly cannot.  

We must not normalize this attempt by the LeBlanc administration to subvert our institutions of shared governance.

Our call to action: If we learn that we will be prevented from voting at the Faculty Assembly, we are encouraging faculty to stage a protest and walk out of the meeting (electronically, by simply logging off). The vote to preserve or deny our voting rights will take place at the beginning of the meeting. If LeBlanc manages to undermine our well established right to vote at the Faculty Assembly, we will walk out rather than help him pretend that this is a normal or acceptable way to lead a university.

By the way, the Chair of the Senate Executive Committee, Arthur Wilson, has indicated that the senate will still conduct the survey if the LeBlanc administration manages to suppress our vote on Wednesday. Thus, LeBlanc’s manipulation if the Assembly will have served only to confirm his disregard for the spirit and procedures of shared governance and his blatant disrespect for us, his faculty colleagues. We call on all faculty to attend the Faculty Assembly on Wednesday at 4PM — to support the measure if we can, and to walk out if the LeBlanc administration attempts to undermine the clearly defined authority of the Faculty Assembly.

In Solidarity,
The GWU Faculty Association

Published by GWUFA

GWUFA is a grass-roots, faculty-run organization and has no official relation to the university administration or the Faculty Senate.

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