CORVALLIS - The Faculty Senate at Oregon State University has passed a resolution opposing terrorism directed toward scientific research. The recent action of the Faculty Senate was based on a proposal made months before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, officials say.
It was in part a response to past terrorist and vandalism attacks at OSU by various interest groups, including one in March, 2001, against forestry research plots being used to study the application of biotechnology to plantation-grown poplar trees. These plantations provide an alternative source of wood to reduce pressure for harvest of upland and old-growth forests.
"The strength of this resolution is that it clearly states there is no purpose served by a terrorist attack against science," said Steven Strauss, an OSU professor of forestry who initially worked with a faculty senator to develop the resolution.
"OSU faculty overwhelmingly agree that terrorism is not necessary to alert people to problems, raise issues, or resolve concerns," Strauss said. "Democracy is alive and well in America, and we already have a great deal of open, effective public debate and attention paid to most any issue of significant scientific and technological concern."
In recent years, OSU has been a national leader in developing conferences about scientific issues of concern to the public, encouraging research on those topics, and working to develop solutions that consider various points of view. Efforts have been made in fields ranging from biotechnology to animal rights, endangered species, forest management, water quality and many other widely debated topics.
The resolution states:
Whereas, Oregon State University, and its faculty, have been openly and vigorously encouraging the public debate about the applications of scientific research, and will continue to do so; and
Whereas, Oregon State University, and its faculty, have also been conducting research to develop improved production methods, and to study and minimize undesired effects of scientific research; and
Whereas, Acts of terrorism against scientific research only polarize, distort, and risk discrediting legitimate ethical and technological concerns; and
Whereas, There is no legitimate rationale for acts of terrorism against scientific research that destroy university property, harm long-term research projects, and risk lives; and
Whereas, recent acts of terrorism against scientific research have caused extensive damage to field sites and university buildings; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Faculty Senate of Oregon State University declares that these acts of terrorism against scientific research violate the fundamental freedoms of inquiry and discourse upon which universities in free societies are based.
Resolved, That the Faculty Senate instead encourages those with strong concerns to use the university to make their cases public, and to debate their strengths and merits in an open forum.