Ball State can’t end the intelligent design discussion without first having it.
In May 2013, the university began investigating a Honors College course accused of teaching intelligent design, which received national attention and resulted in a decision by a private panel of four people.
Late July, University President Jo Ann Gora made a definitive statement that could have ended the conversation about the course and its professor, Eric Hedin, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy.
In her statement, Gora said presenting intelligent design as a valid scientific theory would violate the course’s academic integrity.
Months later, four legislators are raising questions about how Ball State handled the situation, noting the university’s review of Hedin’s course was not made public.
“We feel unable to judge whether the investigation was fair and impartial,” the legislators said in a letter to Gora on March 10.
Truthfully, the lack of transparency last semester was concerning.
Ball State didn’t give anyone access to the panel’s evaluation or process, details to the evaluations each honors course are now required to go through or outlined repercussions for Hedin.
The university needs to explain the process and the logic behind it.
Just as these legislators should represent the public, the university should protect the interests of students and faculty. The discussion needs to respect their opinion and involvement as well as explain why the university came to certain conclusions.
Being transparent will help the university earn the trust of both the Ball State community and the public.
It makes sense for the university to be intimidated by the special interest groups following its every move. No matter what statement it makes, a group was bound to breathe down their necks and alert the national media. But that doesn’t mean Ball State should resort to closed doors.
Gora and the university need to allow others to sit in on this potential meeting. Keeping the discussion private when the issues rose from complaints of privacy won’t reassure anyone.