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Academic Senate opposes war
Inability to meet quorum of 200 voters stalls voting for hour

Photos by GREG ZIOLKOWKI/Daily Bruin
UCLA faculty vote on the academic resolution Monday afternoon. A resolution against the war in Iraq was passed, 180 to 7.

By Shaun Bishop

A groundbreaking but controversial resolution condemning the war in Iraq was passed 180 to 7 by UCLA faculty Monday, but not before a fiery debate about whether they could even take a valid vote.

"Quorum" was the word of choice at a meeting of UCLA's division of the Academic Senate, as just over 200 in attendance argued about whether or not they had enough faculty to make the meeting and the resolution official.

The final persons count was never released, but unofficial counts were as close as 199 before it was announced that they had the required 200 voters.

Drafters said the movement makes UCLA the first university in the country to take a stand on the war since the United States entered Iraq.

About an hour of discussion moderated by Academic Senate Vice Chairman Clifford Brunk preceded the vote, with faculty in attendance offering varying points of view on the resolution.

"There's a terrible irony here," said Michael Rodriguez, a professor of family medicine who offered a medical professional's perspective on health implications of the war.

"The U.S. claims military measures are preventative, so (it) deploys weapons of mass destruction that will lead to disease and hunger on a massive scale," he said.

Panelists Duncan Lindsey, Thomas Schwartz and Clifford Brunk discuss if the meeting reached the quorum of 200 people.

Some speakers opposed to the idea of the Academic Senate making a statement about the war were received by sparse applause and even booing.

"These are people who arrogantly purport to speak for me when I am unable to unjoin my organization," law school professor Grant Nelson said to the assembly.

The strongest applause of the afternoon was for physics professor Karoly Holczer, who took issue with those denouncing the senate's authority to make a statement about the war.

"The few academic senates in the country are the only organizations who should take a stand on human morals. It's more than our right, it's our obligation," he said.

Other professors expressed concern over details of the language of the resolution, but linguistics chair Edward Keenan garnered strong applause in addressing the bigger picture.

"In the end, the most of our effect of the meeting will be if we are opposed or if we are not," Keenan said.

Faculty began to get restless about an hour into the discussion, and some started asking the moderator if they had reached quorum. John Tucker, chief administrative officer of the senate, replied that they needed one more.

Suddenly, a professor who refused to give his name entered, and Tucker announced quorum had been reached.

The man then marched to the front of the assembly and demanded an official count by the moderator. As suddenly as he had come, he left the room, bringing the count back below 200.

A heated debate ensued, with members yelling at each other over the validity of the now absent man's quorum call.

Eventually, senate officials made an official count and Chairman Duncan Lindsey announced, "We have achieved quorum," eliciting wild cheers from the crowd.

Had quorum not been reached, the meeting would "never had happened" and an official resolution could not have been passed.

The faculty amended the original preamble before the final vote, which indicated the resolution spoke for "the assembled members of the faculty of UCLA" instead of "the faculty members of UCLA."

A small group of Bruin Republicans stood outside the meeting, which was closed to the public, holding signs and encouraging those entering to vote against the motion. They were noticeably disappointed on hearing the result of the vote.

"This isn't about our position on the war, it's about the purpose of the Academic Senate," said Mark Sato, director of faculty/staff relations for the group.

"I think the faculty has embarrassed themselves today," he said.

UC Santa Barbara passed a resolution on Feb. 24 condemning the war before it had started, but this is reportedly the first that has been passed since coalition forces invaded Iraq.

"Let's hold the president and his administration to what they claim: to make sure the Iraqi people are free of tyranny," said Maurice Zeitlin, co-author of the resolution.