FACULTY SENATE MEETING
January 13, 2009
Present: Chair Martin, Secretary Kellner; Chair Elect Overton, Provost Nielsen, Parliamentarian Corbin; Senators Akroyd, Ambaras, Anson, Auerbach, Bernhard, Boone, Carver, Domingue, Fleisher, Franke, Havner, Headen, Hemenway, Hergeth, Honeycutt, Levy, Lindsay, Murty, Poling, Roberts, Tu, Williams
Excused: Senators Fahmy, Khater, Lindbo, Muddiman, Scotford
Absent: Senators Edmisten, Genereux, Kocurek, Kotek, Poindexter, Ristaino, Ting
Visitors: Betsy Brown, Provost Office; Marcia Gumpertz, AVP, Faculty & Staff Diversity; Katie Perry, Senior Vice Provost; Suzanne Weiner, Library Administration; P. J. Teal, Secretary of the University; Tracy Dixon, Sustainability Director; John Ambrose, Interim Dean, DUAP
1. Call to Order
Chair James D. Martin called the ninth meeting of the fifty-fifth session of the North Carolina State University Faculty Senate to order at 3:00 p.m.
2. Welcome and Announcements
Chair Martin welcomed Senators and guests.
Chair Martin announced that Janet Hudson had resigned after serving three and a half years on the Senate and two and a half of those years were served on the Executive Committee. The Senate recognized and expressed their appreciation to her service to the Senate and the University.
Senator Cindy Hemenway will replace past Senator Hudson as Chair of the Academic Policy Committee and as a member of the Executive Committee.
Chair Martin summarized what was discussed in the December 4th Executive Committee. They had discussions largely on things to anticipate coming from committees in the second half of the session.
Chair Martin gave an assessment of the committee reports.
The Governance Committee will be reporting on Emeritus Faculty. There were issues raised several years ago on that issue.
They have done some work on it, looking at regulation 01.25.5, which is the regulation that talks about how you modify regulations. In that regulation there was no mention of faculty consultation or involvement that happens for many policies and not for others, so they have had some conversation about that and have come up with some recommendations, which in the Executive Committee was handed off to the Provost who is going to discuss it with the administration to come up with an agreed upon language to address that matter.
The committee also worked on the issue of internal communication on the Senate.
Personnel Policy reports that they have been largely information gathering pertaining to grievance policy issues and how grievance processes have been implemented. They note that they will bring a report to the Senate this semester.
The Academic Policy Committee reports that they spent a lot of time looking at the evaluation of teaching. They are looking at the evaluation of teaching policy. They have had Karen Helm come and talk about the implementation of the online tool.
They also reported that there has been discussion regarding what we do about the use of teaching evaluations versus the tool of data collection -- the whole issue of formative versus summative evaluations will continue to be addressed in this process.
The Resources and Environment Committee reports that they will be meeting with Tina Nelson who is the new Public Safety case manager. She will also be coming to the full Senate to discuss the new role of what the case manager will do. She will be addressing, to some degree, issues such as, how do you know when to report, what to report, and where to report if you suspect suspicious activity in the classroom or other settings.
David Rainer will be discussing some updates to the university security plan and in addition, Resources and Environment notes an issue of concern that they are going to look into in more detail, revolving around the involvement of faculty in building and construction planning and particularly value engineering.
Chair Martin reported that the Executive Committee had a discussion with Provost Nielsen regarding budget cut information -- in particular, he gave a timeline to be thinking about what to expect in the months to come. This month we need to focus on establishing some criteria to evaluate how we are going to move ahead. The criteria work needs to be finalized this month so that we can go to the next phases. We need to then determine the areas for reduction. Those decisions probably need to be made mid to late February or the beginning of March. We will not know fully the extent to where there will be cuts until after April 15 because that is when we will find out what the state’s revenues are, but a lot of planning needs to be done before then. To stay abreast as much as possible you can link to a website that has been created through the Provost’s homepage. The website is http://www.fis.ncsu.edu/rm/budget_central
The Martin Luther King Seminar will be in Stewart Theatre tomorrow at noon. Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center will be the speaker.
The Millennium Seminar on January 26, President Bill Clinton will be the speaker. There will be live web cast.
The Emerging Issues Forum will be February 9-10 at the Raleigh Convention Center.
Chair Martin sent a card to Coach Yow on behalf of the faculty. He asked that everyone keep her in his or her thoughts and prayers.
3. Approval of the Minutes, Meeting No. 8, December 2, 2008
A motion passed to approve the minutes.
4. Remarks from Provost Nielsen
Provost Nielsen stated that we are engaged now in dealing with a puzzle of large importance in terms of the budget reductions that we are facing this year and over the next couple of years. We want to have a lot of information on the website for those who are interested in learning about the budget and the budget situation. The difficulty of something like this is that we can put enough information on that website to make it as daunting as possible, but there is so much going on and so many documents that when we get started on putting information up there we find it hard to stop and differentiate what it is you would want to know. There is a suggestion box on the site for suggestions on how you think we might deal with this budget crisis.
Provost Nielsen stated that they had a retreat yesterday where there were about forty people in attendance to talk about process and to generate some ideas to give a sense of what they are dealing with at a 7% permanent budget reduction, which is the upper limit that they have been asked to plan for, and is approximately $36M for the university as a whole. There are three budget lines that we deal with and two of them are mostly handled by the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The third budget line is the combination of appropriation and tuition that relates to everything else that is done from the academic side and a 7% reduction on that is approximately $28M, so that is the aim that we are looking at.
Provost Nielsen noted as an example that you could write off the Colleges of Natural Resources, Education, and Textiles we would still need to find more money. The scale of this is a little daunting and to make the goal of cutting the budget, there will be some things that we do that are going to be large dollar items. There is no ready roster of things that just appear that we can do, so it is going to be a long and hard process over the next several months.
The other thing that complicates this is we know that we will be getting demands for answers to what are you going to do? How are you going to do it? A perfect example of that is just before we left for the holidays we were given an order by the then governor to prepare a scenario for a 3, 5, and 7% budget cut that would go into the next fiscal year, so we had to produce this set of responses that we might take and, so during the holidays Charlie Leffler, Steve Keto, and I put that into a statement of budget impacts because it was due at General Administration the close of business on the first day that we reopened the university after the holidays. That information will be available to you. One thing I want to emphasize is that the Chancellor endorsed and changed some things that Charlie Leffler and I had brought forward in this conversation. We did this to solve that requirement, to get this projection up to General Administration to give to the Governor, and there are specific things listed -- for example, 7% we will have to cut 180 teaching sections -- but I want you to know that no decision has been made about anything relative to the general nature of this budget cut. They will be coming, but they haven’t been made yet.
From this year’s budget we had to give back 4% and we are anticipating that we will be asked to give back up to 7% of this year’s budget by the time we get to the end of the year. It may actually be more than that, but what we have done is created an approach so that we are prepared for a one time 7% budget cut this year. To take the other 3% we have divided it into two pieces again. The first one and a half would take us up to five percent and then the next one and a half would get us up to seven. We are positive that we will go at least 5 and a half percent because before Governor Easley left he required a 5% give back by all other State agencies, but not by the university. We added an extra half percent on there so that is the first 1.5%. We distributed that budget cut out to the various units in the university based primarily on the University Budget Advisory Committee principles that we have been using to allocate budget cuts, nine across the board for the last several years.
Provost Nielsen stated that the next 1.5% that would take us from 5.5% to 7, we are going to take through central reserved funds should we need to do so. We are taking the first part and asking your units to contribute that right now and then we have a certain amount of reserved funds that are available because we believe that tuition revenues will match the projections and exceed them by a small amount. Also, so far, the weather has been pretty good, so our utility budget looks like we may make it with the budgeted amount and we won’t need the money that we put in reserve for the utility budget. There are a few other reserve funds that we haven’t had to draw from so far, so we will cover the next 1.5% if it comes, with the central reserves. If we don’t need those, then we will be able to use those for the kinds of university level projects and purchases that we normally would use them for.
Provost Nielsen stated that he and the Chancellor and Charlie Leffler went before the education planning committee for the Board of Governors to ask permission to move forward on planning for the possibility of the start of a presence in Korea using a $1M grant from the Korean government. The Board of Governors unanimously passed it, so that grant will fund a year’s worth of study to see what we might want to do then.
Chair Elect Overton stated that a faculty member told her that the Governor has announced a 10% cut. She commented that we all have to be very careful about what we hear and how we get our information. She is pleased that the Provost has the web site to communicate what seem to be the facts for the campus as opposed to state government in general.
Provost Nielsen stated that there are going to be ideas, suggestions and talk that gets out there and rumors will be flying. He stated that they haven’t heard about this 10% cut yet.
Senator Levy commented that it doesn’t seem as bad as everyone alleges. He asked, don’t we expect the Legislature on July 1 to use a base budget that we had the previous July 1 and then take off whatever the permanent reductions are? He stated that we are either going to be there already or really close so we will already be operating in that realm, so for the following year there is not going to be that much additional pain. We have to be clear that we have taken the percentage, 4,5,6,or 7%, and then there is not going to be an additional amount -- it’s just going to be made permanent.
Provost Nielsen stated that when the reduction becomes permanent we have to do things that we haven’t done this year, so a lot of people have absorbed the cut this year by delaying the filling of positions. When we do it next year it won’t be delaying them, but eliminating them forever. The consequence of that is that we will see different kinds of budget reductions for the permanent than we did for the temporary.
Senator Headen commented that he doesn’t have a good image of what the big item, total scenarios where if you are doing it you have a lot of little things that is going to need some big things to make this budget work. I don’t have in my mind examples of things that would be in that carrier of big things.
Provost Nielsen said one thing that has been suggested is furloughs (mandatory unpaid leave) and we are being told right now that NC State couldn’t choose to do that, that the UNC system could not choose to do that, that the State would have to do it as a whole. Let’s say for example that we could do it at NC State. One day of mandatory unpaid leave for everyone at the university saves us $1.8M, but we can’t. If we were going to say “give everyone a week of unpaid leave ($8.0M)”, so that is a big item that is university wide. There are other ways that other universities have done this.
To give you another example, something that we are looking at is classroom management. When we look at how we manage classrooms at the university, there are all sorts of issues that touch classrooms in terms of planning them. Could we put that together in a way that would make some sense? Could we also manage the scheduling of classrooms better to have better utilization of our classrooms?
Senator Levy said he heard that Chapel Hill requested the maximum (tuition) increase for this coming year and NC State didn’t. Is there a reason for that?
Provost Nielsen stated that we go through a process in which we have a tuition advisory committee that works through this process. As we worked through this, this year, we came to the conclusion that considering all aspects of this -- when we got in the conversation the student representative stood up and said we think the tuition level should match the higher education reduction index or higher education, which is 3.6% for the last several years. They recommended that level and the committee endorsed that level. There is still a lot going on relative to tuition. It has to be approved by the Board of Governors. There are a variety of viewpoints on the Board of Governors, but [keeping tuition low is] a very strongly held one by a lot of people. There is no tuition increase this year. We don’t know yet what is going to be allowed. The BOG will vote on February 8th and why Chapel Hill went to 6.5% I don’t know, but if you will recall they were at zero last year.
Senator Kellner: Could you tell us, approximately, how much money 1% tuition increase means?
Provost Nielsen responded that they spend about 55% on financial aid. We are required by the Board of Governors to spend a minimum of 25% on faculty salaries and we put 3% into the libraries and about 17% of that total 100% is available to me to allocate to what we call quality and accessibility.
Recognize that if the legislature tells us to raise tuition, they drop the state appropriation by the amount of money that was raised and so it is a zero sum. One of the [arguments in favor of] raising tuition ourselves a little bit is that then it sort of takes it off the table for the general assembly to do so, but if we leave it at zero then it’s easier for them to come in and use it as budget balancing technique.
Senator Ambaras: I’m curious about how we relate to various agencies in the city of Raleigh in terms of transportation, because one thing I think we could look at is parking fees on campus and increasing parking fees is a way of revenue. That would be a revenue measure, but it’s also an environmental measure. I ride the TTA bus from Chapel Hill, which is extremely convenient. I wonder if there is some way for the university to work with the City of Raleigh to help provide more transportation students can use when they are off campus so that we can raise money through increasing parking.
Provost Nielsen said we want to make sure that whatever we do in taking a budget cut, it leaves us prepared for moving forward effectively once the budget improves. We don’t want to do things that are going to be destructive to our mission as an institution, so your point that a budget measure may raise money, but also change behavior, change culture, make us a better place, is something we need to keep in mind all the time when we are thinking about this, so that we don’t do something wrong on the way to trying to balance the budget.
5. Sustainability at NC State
Tracy Dixon, Director of Sustainability gave a quick overview of what sustainability is and what the sustainability office is doing.
Dixon stated that the sustainability office is fairly new. Sustainability is more about balance and moving forward responsibly, that it’s more than just the environment, it’s about balance.
Dixon reported that there are nine focused areas that they have been talking about. These nine focused areas came out of an assessment that was done on campus in 2006 that looked at our campus in terms of sustainability and where we are so that we can have a baseline and can move forward from that. The nine focused areas are academics and research, buildings, culture, energy, land use, materials, transportation, waste reduction, recycling and water. NC State is very fortunate because we have strengths. We have offices and staff dedicated to most of these focused areas.
Dixon stated that they are positioning themselves to be that focal point for sustainability for the clearinghouse for sustainability. We are that central resource on campus that you can get to. We are focusing on sustainability education. We are currently on this awareness push to help people to understand what is sustainability, what does the sustainability office do, and how can the sustainability office help.
Making our campus sustainability more visible
This university is much more about natural impact than some other universities. We are hoping to coordinate the campus environmental sustainability team that Provost Nielsen headed up in his previous role as dean of the College of Natural Resources. We are in the process right now of formalizing that restructuring, so it is a campus-wide body that has representation across the campus to help lead some of the strategic planning and implementation of the sustainability strategy. In essence we are trying to integrate sustainability into everything we do here as a university and not make it something that is done on top of what we were doing, but really make it part of what we are doing.
Dixon handed out copies of the sustainability annual report. She noted that they are restructuring the campus environmental sustainability team. There is definitely room for faculty involvement on that. If you are interested in getting involved contact Tracy Dixon.
Senator Auerbach wanted to know if Dining Services is thinking about going local since Duke and UNC have had some success there.
Dixon stated that there is great interest. Dining services is looking into a number of things and the biggest hurdle that they are up against now is the volume of foods that we need when we need them.
Senator Poling: How would you evaluate student involvement in your first year in your programs?
Dixon stated the biggest thing that has happened -- a nice surprise – is that every group has some subset of it that has to do with the environment and sustainability. So the student government has a sustainability commission that has been driving a lot of projects at local farmer markets. I think students by nature are very interested in that and they are approaching us. So our role has been helping them get the resources they need, connecting them with other student resources.
Senator Ambaras: How are the university bookstores working toward sustainability if at all? The textbook buy-back program is something that has been promoted in terms of making more effective recycling of textbooks. He discovered a place called Better World Books (betterworld.com) which gives a percentage of every book purchase to literacy programs both locally and globally and it uses carbon neutral packaging and it ships basically free. He wonders if there is a way for her office to work with the university bookstores to try to find opportunities like that.
Dixon stated that they have had some conversations about different purchases on campus.
6. Policies for Consideration
REG 05.20.10 Evaluation of Teaching
The Academic Policy and Evaluation of Teaching Committee met last Friday and made some changes to the document. Senator Hemenway, Chair of the Academic Policy reported on the revisions.
2.3 – There was discussion that in some cases there is not a consensus on who those people would be so to avoid confusion as to what would happen if the faculty and department head did not agree, a phrase was added [calling for] resolution by the dean if there is disagreement. Apparently this has happened. Just to clarify that if there is a disagreement between faculty and the department head, the dean can listen to the case.
3.1 –The committee put a phrase back in that had been deleted, because when the document got revised the phrase ended up needing to be there, to refer to an item in the document that is relevant.
5.1 – There were some slight wording that students may choose not to submit an evaluation if they feel that a particular student might be recognized. There was much concern over the return rate and if [the survey does not reach a] particular percentile the data may not be functional. We had a discussion at the last meeting about guidelines, and [the fact that] that people did not like the idea that Planning and Analysis would come up with guidelines, which we would have to follow. There was also discussion in the APC by administrators and faculty that there have been instances where there were small classes, but the students want to have input. We would like to be able to file a recommendation that they choose to, knowing that primarily with five people if they write comments, you might be able to guess who they are. The committee thought it would be best to not eliminate anyone, so that if you have a class of four and your students want to do it, let them. Instead of invoking a guideline that we have to follow, that was reworded. We just made a slight change that students would be given evaluations during 10% of the last week of class and someone pointed out that it is not the same if it’s a summer class and 10% may be different depending on if its an online course, so they resolved to put during the last two weeks of a regular term.
5.6 A minor word change by EOTC
- Another minor change is course website was changed.
- In the last original version that the Senate saw, there was a lot of discussion because we brought up this concept that Karen Helm was going to provide some sort of guideline. They have done a good job of looking at the statistics and they are trying to work out a system where they are trying to come up with the recommendation to use published methods as well as the data we have, to come up with a sheet that basically says if you have a class with 35 people and one person responds, or 2% responds, etc., and you get this number, what is the competence interval for that number. So it is not saying that if you don’t get a certain number that it is not counted. It is a description of the data. The intention was to take out the reference and to address what the Senate had resolved at the end of last year, which was for the faculty to be able to look at the class evaluation data and accept their guidelines to be able to evaluate teaching evaluation constituents in the department as they relate to compensation and employment. So we had two subsections that ended up on the MOODLE on 8.2 and 8.3 that was pretty similar with one, being a little more detailed than the other. We have combined 8.2 and 8.3 and it basically says the same thing.
- Previously these were added to ensure the confidentially of the information coming to the faculty and the departments. In the EOTC we deleted the last sentence from 9.3 that reports will not be generated when insufficient data has been collected for a valid evaluation of teaching, because that negated what we were saying in 8.2.
Senator Hemenway moved that the Senate accept the document knowing that it will go from here to the department heads and the administration. The motion was seconded.
Senator Kellner: What is the intention of 6.3 (Assessment)
Senator Hemenway stated that the intention is that the person who is observing another person teaching is required to write down the comments for how they are evaluating the students at that moment.
Senator Tu: Regarding 8.2, do we have guidelines for establishing those guidelines?
Senator Hemenway stated that the departments would set up their guidelines and criteria for how they are going to evaluate the teaching of their faculty.
Senator Williams asked for clarification on Section 7 and Section 7.2: In a peer review, how many peers are you going to be reviewed by? How can you maintain confidentiality of that information when there are only two or three people who are providing these evaluations? I don’t understand how a peer review could be confidential.
Provost Nielsen thinks it would be a good idea to work on a recommended guideline and best practice for using this because a department might inadvertently set up some guidelines that aren’t right.
Senator Ambaras stated that the question that comes to his mind is how does one relate the quantitative and the qualitative aspects in evaluation. Some students are more committed to the process and are willing to write things. What if you get a disparity between the aggregate number and the qualitative comments? How does a reasonable guideline deal with those issues?
Chair Martin commented that a lot of people across the university raised the question to him. We could consider holding hearings as was done with the post-tenure review to see what issues people would raise and suggest.
Senator Anson agrees with some general guidelines. There is a lot of comparison on individual scores on teaching evaluations with departmental averages or means, so you will get into a situation where you might have a very strong department teaching-wise and the average across all the evaluation numbers is 4.1. You have someone with a 3.9 average and that person looks substandard within the context of the department when in fact they are not substandard at all, when individually they are looking pretty good. That kind of a guideline or some kind of informative suggestions for how to deal with evaluations I think would be really useful.
Senator Auerbach commented that there are simple things for any given student evaluations in the class. There are statistical measures you can use to see how good that is, but when you get to the comparative stuff it is a mess because first of all it is different kinds of populations filling out the evaluations.
Secretary Kellner pointed out that you can’t really get through an evaluation form without hitting some numbers but you can certainly get through without writing anything -- one side is obligatory and the other side is optional, which says everything about what is wrong with the system. It should be obligatory to write comments, and optional to pick numbers.
Senator Williams: Does 8.3 imply that department heads and deans are bound by how they will be used?
Senator Hemenway replied that the discussion with EOTC was about that issue. Previously 8.3 sounded like faculty decided. Perhaps it needs to be clarified to indicate that the decisions within the department for how they are going to evaluate teaching and they will come to an agreement of that those criteria will be used if the person is to be evaluated for teaching, promotion or a raise that they met the criteria.
Chair Martin stated that the establishers of fact are not the decision makers, so whoever gives the raise is the decision maker and this [process] is, sort of, the establisher of fact.
Senior Vice Provost Perry requested that the group look at what they asked for in the dossiers because now it is a summary and that is about the sense of the instructions.
The motion passed unanimously to adopt the document.
7. Faculty Senate /Constituency Communication
Chair Martin stated that the issue came up last year when there was some disagreement among Senators of a particular college as to what information was being sent out and prior to that there had never been an issue. We don’t have Senate policies so when we put together the Senate handbook this year we included a sheet that stated communication would be through email contact through your Dean’s office or the Faculty Senate Office.
Senator Ambaras commented that this is something that came up last year and then a version of faculty communication with their constituents was included in the Faculty Senate handbook, although that was, I think, created by the Executive Committee without a general discussion.
In general, what is important, from my perspective, is the principle that any faculty senator is able to communicate as he or she sees fit with the members of his or her college because faculty senators are elected individually. They are not elected as a slate of candidates. While they are encouraged to cooperate with each other, to coordinate with each other, and while nobody wants to receive multiple messages about the same small matter of business from several senators, nonetheless there are issues where senators may disagree or where senators may have different priorities or where senators may see the need to consult their constituents in a way that other senators could not. So for that purpose, while senators should, as a matter of practice, exercise the courtesy of inviting other senators to join or informing other senators that they intend to communicate, there should be no possibility that one senator should interfere with another senator’s communication with their constituents, nor should there be the possibility for a member of the Executive Committee to impede a senator from communicating with his or her constituent. It is basically a question of unimpeded communication, with the understanding that matters conducted in closed session, personnel items, etc., would not be communicated by Senators in that way.
Senator Lindsay, Chair of the Governance Committee reported that the committee met several times on this topic. The goal is to determine ways for them to improve communication. The committee has drafted a policy on Faculty Senate communication and would like feedback from the Senate before moving forward.
Senator Williams: I represent the College of Management, but Ag and Resources Economics is in my building, and I used to be part of a combined department, so anything that comes to me from the Senate, I always share. In some sense I kind of represent that little constituency that is in CALS. Would that be prohibited under this new policy?
Chair Martin: That is an important thing to think about in terms of whether we need such a policy or not, because there is nothing that forbids anyone from contacting anybody about anything.
Senator Ambaras: In larger colleges the senators don’t necessarily have the email addresses of the entire voting faculty. In CHASS for example, the deans office does maintain an email list for the faculty but it doesn’t necessarily include the entire voting faculty and it may include non-voting faculty. The main thing is that if you are in a small constituency, you know everybody and it is really not a problem, but if you have a large constituency where you don’t know everyone, you need to be able to communicate with them.
Senator Auerbach: It seems to me that that the real content of this is that Senators should have access to said email list. It might be good not to put the implementation part into the bylaws because implementation issues can change. I think it would be a good idea not to be too detailed on how it gets implemented. I don’t mind item 3 being there, I just don’t understand why it’s there. What’s confidential is confidential.
Senator Lindsay stated that when he and Chair Martin discussed it, they talked about the possibility of it being a narrative for new senators so that they understood.
Chair Martin: That is the context -- that if we go in this route we have to decide what we are going to do. If it’s in a handbook -- some narrative to remind everybody not to talk about what is in closed session -- just makes sense, but there is a difference between what would go into a handbook and what would go into a policy. There is a difference between what would go into a handbook or policy and what would go into bylaws.
Senator Ambaras asked a sense of the Senate about the gist of access and following that, moved that the draft be returned to committee to determine whether it be phrased as a bylaw amendment or as a policy.
Chair Martin: [This is] what we currently do, and again you don’t have to deal with me beyond this session. Currently everybody does have access to the list. All you need to do is send any communication to the Senate requesting that it be sent out to your constituency, and we do that. The only situation in history where any issue came here was when Senators approached us saying that things are going out that are not representative of what we think the Senate is saying. They asked for some intervention. Little to no intervention was actually done in terms of actual action. The issue, I think, is still relevant that we are not restricting access. There is no one here censoring what goes out. In fact, most things just automatically go. People all across campus request that items be sent out to the faculty and so we provide a bit of a filter, because we want information that comes out from the faculty senate list to be of some relevance to the faculty. The particular kind of situation [we have] here in terms of representation -- and I’m very strongly in favor of communication and representation -- what we want to make sure is that you are a representative and we are not giving [you] a soap box. That is the only caution I would say. On even the hottest hot button topic, if you wanted information regarding something and you sent a message to your entire constituency, even if another senator objected, my decision would be that it needs to go out. If by contrast you were holding forth on whatever, I would raise questions about that because that’s soapbox, not representation. That is how I would make my judgment as chair in terms of communication. So from the Chair’s perspective I would recommend that we continue as we have, that we maintain the list here. Senators have really full access to the list and in the odd situation that something comes up we address it then.
Senator Ambaras: With all due respect, I disagree strongly with the chair’s position on this, having had correspondence to my constituents blocked both by the Senate and by the intervention of a fellow senator. I feel that this is not a question of preventing someone from having a soapbox, while others would simply interpret it as the free exercise of one’s speech. This is a fundamental issue of how the Faculty Senate operates. I believe that every Senator has to be able to communicate with their constituency as they see fit on matters of Senate business. That is to say, if a Senator has an opinion about something that is going on in the Senate, an issue before the Senate, that Senator should be able to voice their opinion to their constituents. This is not soapbox, this is communication, and for the Faculty Chair [to decide] that this is going beyond asking for people’s responses and to say because you are going beyond that, we are not going to let you send out this message, I think is totally inappropriate. There is no bylaw or rule that I can find that gives the Faculty Chair that authority. I believe that it does not help the process of faculty governance; it impedes the process of faculty governance. Going beyond the situation in which the chair exercises that kind of intervention, there is a catch-22 involved as well. If a senator wanted to communicate with his or her constituency, the senator has to have that list, but if the faculty chair says, ‘sorry you can’t have that list because your message is inappropriate,’ then there is no way to communicate.
Chair Martin: There are multiple ways to get the list and what we have talked about is that if you wanted to have such a case for conversation to set up something like a WIKI site or a MOODLE site, for which all you need to do is go to the people who control the unity Ids for the university and you can set up that site. All we suggested and all I’m suggesting here is that this email list or the voter roster is actually a list from the faculty senate and if you want to have a communication site, set up an alternative mechanism like a WIKI site or MOODLE site, where discussion can take place. The list we maintain we don’t think is the appropriate list for a discussion site, but it is the information channel for senate business.
Senator Auerbach: Actually I think the point of the policy is to strip you of the power to do that and I agree with David that you need to be stripped of that power, because deciding what counts as a soap box rather than a Senator presenting the arguments that the Senator believes in to the Senator’s constituency is a right of a Senator.
Chair Martin: This issue has nothing to do with communication, it has to do with the Senate’s need to have a list the Senate can depend on, so that when it says it is coming from the Senate, people know it’s coming from the Senate. That is different from having an opportunity for communication, which I don’t disagree with at all. All you need to do is to contact the holders of the unity ID and they can put together the list that you can work with.
Chris Anson: There is a realm of Senate business that is above and beyond opinions on issues -- that is, the routine business of the Senate. For example we are holding an election in CHASS to replace Janet [Hudson] and you designated a Senator to take care of that. I would like to see language in number two where there will be some mention of routine [business], that senators from a college should cooperate on matters of routine business that require cooperation, so that you don’t have confusion.
Chair Martin: That, in many cases is what I’m trying to communicate about the Senate email list because we need it for those kinds of things, rather than using it as a discussion board. Discussion boards are completely appropriate and maybe what you are asking for is a way to coordinate to set up something like a WIKI or a MOODLE a college.
Senator Ambaras: What I’m asking for is access to my voters email addresses, period.
Senator Levy: We talked about something similar in communicating with our students and the issue that came up, and I think we need to be aware of, is that depending how old one is, our comfort level with using things with these sites is not as great as some others. We are communicating with our constituents who have varying degrees of comfort levels. We all use email and I think restricting it to any one method restricts communication, so I agree with David, but I can go to my dean and they will send it out.
Senator Ambaras: If the Senate is the only place to maintain a list of the voting faculty, then the senators should have access to that list.
The policy will go back to the committee for discussion.
Chair Martin adjourned the meeting at 5:05p.m.