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The Medill faculty spun its wheels Wednesday, defeating an innocuous resolution written in response to "Quotegate," the controversy over much more than a quote. Here's the resolution: "We the faculty of Medill accept Dean John Lavine's apology for poor judgment in not properly attributing a source in a letter he wrote to the alumni in the spring of 2007 issue of Medill magazine. We look forward to working with Dean Lavine as full partners in the future."
This resolution went down 22 to 14. One faculty faction opposed it because it's so wimpy -- it says nothing about the running-sore question of whether there was a source in the first place. A larger faction, composed of marketing professors, opposed it on grounds that the dispute was silly and Lavine owed no one an apology. A third faction believed the resolution ignored the most important issue -- Northwestern provost Daniel Linzer's unsatisfactory report that claimed a blue-ribbon committee had vindicated Lavine.
The resolution's champions believed it would let Medill move beyond an issue about which the truth will probably never be known.
Dean Lavine, present for the faculty meeting, abstained.
Some faculty felt a second resolution voted on Wednesday also addressed the matter: "We the faculty and the dean vigorously uphold the fundamentals of truth, accuracy, ethics and fairness in journalism and in all communications." Despite the careless omission of apple pie, this passed 29 to 7, Dean Lavine voting aye.
A third resolution proposed that the faculty and dean commit themselves to deliberating and voting on the new Medill curriculum that Lavine has introduced before it is fully implemented next year. Here we get to Quotegate's yeasty back story, the sense among the journalism (as opposed to marketing) faculty that Lavine is ramming change down their throats. This resolution was defeated on a tie vote, 17 to 17.
On another front, there's been an exchange of e-mails between Professor David Protess and Provost Linzer's office. Protess is hoping to find out how that blue-ribbon committee went about its work and whether it actually submitted a report.