Approximately 150 College of Idaho students spent part of their Monday afternoon protesting in the C of I's Morrison Quadrangle April 18, in support of two professors who the students say are being unfairly dismissed.
Dr. Isaac Hunter, a visiting psychology professor since 2014 and Dr. Chris Saunders, a visiting chemistry professor since 2012, say they've been told that they won't be returning to campus when the 2016-2017 school year begins. The decision, made by school officials, prompted Monday's student demonstration. Both professors are C of I alums. Hunter graduated in 2004 while Saunders graduated in 2002.
College of Idaho President Dr. Charlotte Borst told Boise Weekly she wanted to correct the impression among some students that "people had been fired."
"This was not the case," Borst wrote in a statement. "Each of the faculty members mentioned by the protesters was on a visiting contract that, according to guidelines in the Faculty Handbook, runs out after this year."
Borst said she understood some people "want a reason for the decisions," but she could not share details "of our personnel process."
Meanwhile, protesters said Monday they're concerned about the prospect that the institution was placing a greater emphasis on faculty-led research over quality of education.
“We want our school to prioritize students and the students’ education as its main goal and not towards the focus of research,” said student Natasha Dacic, her comments echoing through the quad near Sterry Hall via loudspeaker.
Dacic, a sophomore at the College of Idaho and co-organizer of the protest, was joined by other speakers and students who held signs that read "Education Over Publication" and "Stand With Saunders."
"I'm here to stand up for these two professors that have made a big, positive impact on my life," said sophomore chemistry student Noelle Quong. "The College of Idaho emphasizes frequent and meaningful interaction with faculty as part of a liberal arts education. With Professor Saunders and Professor Hunter not returning, we as students are concerned about what's going to happen next."
Meanwhile, Borst said she has offered to meet with the protest organizers "in an environment where we can discuss matters of concern."
"I appreciate their concerns, and I will continue striving to serve the best interests of our student body, the faculty and the entire College of Idaho community,' said Borst.