Amid confusion, Academic Senate vote falls short of stopping academic calendar change

Melissa Bloem/Staff Photographer Provost Gary Shapiro speaks during the discussion of the changes to the academic calendar at the Academic Senate meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

A majority of the Academic Senate Tuesday voted to stop the proposed academic calendar change, but fell short of the two-thirds majority required for the vote to actually count.

The Senate voted 54 to 46 to halt the new calendar, which would shorten the length of semesters to 15 weeks beginning in fall of 2014.

Since the term "rescind" was implemented in the motion, the vote needed to have a two-thirds majority in order to keep the academic calendar at 16 weeks, causing confusion among most of the senators.

“The will of the Senate was reflected in the majority vote,” Provost Gary Shapiro said. “As far as parliamentary procedures, (physics professor Joseph Finck) introduced the particular wording to ‘rescind’ so that he could apply the two-thirds rule.”

The need for a two-thirds vote was not addressed until after the voting process was complete.

“I think it was disingenuous on (Finck’s) part not to inform the Senate before the vote that it then required a two-thirds majority, which would have allowed the Senate to stake the motion in a different fashion,” Shapiro said after the meeting.

Finck led the charge against revoking the academic calendar’s 15-week approval and suggested changing the term to "rescind."

“This is serious; it is saying that a previous body got it wrong, that this body made a mistake,” Finck said during the meeting.

Finck said the numbers provided in the provost's report that determined the adjusted calendar would cost the university $3 million did not seem accurate.

After each side presented an argument, the Senate spent about 10 minutes explaining what each choice meant. Several senators raised questions out of confusion over the use of the word "rescind."

A-Senate chairman Jim McDonald said if any other word besides "rescind" was used in the motion, a two-thirds vote would not have been required. He also said the decision made Tuesday isn't necessarily final.

“What will likely happen is somebody will introduce a new motion that will rescind or reject something for a different reason, but it will still affect the calendar,” McDonald said. “That will go forward unless something else comes up.”

The Student Government Association gained approval from the Senate to propose the initial motion to reject the calendar change. Finck then proposed to change the wording of the motion to "rescind," without fully explaining to the rest of A-Senate that a two-thirds vote would be needed.

“I don’t think (senators) were fully aware, and it wasn’t really explained,” McDonald said.

Arguments from both sides were mentioned with regards to its effect on football game contracts, Leadership Safari and students who work during the summer.

SGA President and Macomb junior Justin Gawronski said he was disappointed in the senators who did not vote to revoke the calendar change.

“When this goes back to the bargaining table, I hope a compromise can be found to better serve the interests of the students,” Gawronski said. “It’s not over until it's over.”

Gawronski said he wished the provost's report was released a year ago and that the main focus of the calendar discussion was on the impact the calendar change would have on academics.

University President George Ross, who has publically come out against the calendar change, was not present because he was tending to university business, Shapiro said.


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