Student Says He Will Push for William Ayers’ Emeritus Status
A student senator on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus wants the U of I Board of Trustees to reconsider its refusal to grant emeritus status to controversial professor William Ayers.
Sophomore Max Ellithorpe said when the trustees voted to deny Ayers emeritus status, they should not have factored Ayers' decision to dedicate his Weather Underground manifesto in part to Robert Kennedy's assassin, Sirhan Sirhan.
Ellithorpe said the manifesto was a political work published before the education theory professor began his academic career.
"An individual's political views have no place in determining their academic achievements," he said. "A large group of people with very different political views have all appreciated Professor Ayers' work, and I think that's the thing they should be looking at."
Board Chairman Christopher Kennedy --- the son of the late Robert Kennedy --- brought up the book dedication when he voted against emeritus status for Ayers last month. The other trustees voted with him, without comment.
Ellithorpe argues that the board's vote against the recommendation raises questions about what role trustees should play in academic decisions at the U of I.
"In the past, their role has been hiring, firing and then financial matters," he said. "I think they're moving more into interfering in the academic environment, and that needs to be cleared up."
Ellithorpe says he'll ask the university's Urbana Campus Academic Senate to pass a resolution next month, asking trustees to reconsider their vote.
Ayers taught at the U of I's Chicago campus where some faculty members ohope to get their own campus' Academic Senate to pass a resolution questioning the trustees' emeritus vote against Ayers.