Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Faculty Senate

Estill Curtis "Buck" Pennington got me reminiscing the other day. Seems it's been 44 years since Buck and I were fraternity brothers at UK and Tuesday was the 44th anniversary of his election as Speaker of the House of UK Student Government. (I was more Student Center.) He came across a couple of old photos from that time (May 1970) and posted them to Facebook. That got me thinking.

44 years ago? Yikes!

The campus environment was very different in that place and time. Electric. Uneasy. Ideas were debated with vinegar. Activism was on the rise. 

On Monday I had been elected Chair of the EKU Faculty Senate so I was thinking about college governance anyway. I'm having to brush up on my rules of order and that made me recall what I have long considered to be my favorite moment in the history of Robert's Rules of Order, starring Buck Pennington.
Burnt remains, UK ROTC building, May 1970 - During the fire, I helped evacuate Blazer Hall (seen back right) and was on the 3rd floor when the windows cracked. Time to go.

As I recall… there was a brilliant campus radical named James Douglas McArthur Williams (I hope I got that right) serving in the House. To give you an idea, he had written a piece for the Kernel claiming, for rhetorical purposes, that [one] could do more damage through simple benign neglect than [one] could with a hatchet and a truck load of dynamite. Colorful.

Having debated passionately, the House was about to pass UK's response to on campus events in the wake of Kent State. Four dead in O - hi - o. There were demonstrations at Kentucky to keep troops off campus.

Anyway, I was in the back of the House somewhere watching Buck preside. 

The measure - to which Williams was vehemently opposed - was clearly passing and he was increasingly agitated; waiting for W to come up in the roll call. At long last...

Clerk: “Williams.”

Williams: “Fuck!”

Buck: (Without hesitation, and punctuated by the crack of the gavel) “The chair does not recognize a vote of fuck!”

Williams:  “Well, fuck No then!”

Buck: “Williams votes, No.”

March from UK to Transy May 1970

The catalytic event was the burning of the ROTC building. Former Governor Happy Chandler punched a protester at a UK Board meeting. Governor Nunn called in the troops, locked, loaded, bayonets fixed. Tear gas wafted over the Student Center lawn. UK closed, and we were sent home before finals.

I hope my term as Faculty Senate chair goes a lot better than that.

1 comment:

Amanda Ferguson said...

Priceless, indeed. Thanks for sharing this colorful blast from the past!