Academic senators remain puzzled, question Tuesday's decision to move forward with calendar change

Some members of the Academic Senate have mixed reactions to Tuesday's vote that fell short of stopping the academic calendar change.

The Senate voted 54 to 46 to stop approval of the calendar but fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to halt it.

The vote came after some confusion about the wording implemented in the motion. The word "rescind" made the two-thirds vote necessary, but was not addressed until after the voting process was complete.

"That was a move (that) was made by (physics professor) Joe Finck, and it ended up requiring a two-thirds vote. I'm not sure if all of us were aware of that," said David Smith, a professor of philosophy and religion, who opposes the new calendar. "I didn't catch it, but I wished someone would have realized it and challenged the original wording of the motion."

Other senators thought differently about the vote.

"Ultimately, when the vote was cast, I don't think there was any confusion on the part of people voting," said David Whale, A-Senate member and associate professor of educational leadership.

James Hill, a professor of political science and A-Senate member, said the next course of action for A-Senate is unknown at this time, although there is a chance something could happen.
"I think there was complacency among opponents of the 15-week semester last Tuesday," Hill said via email. "That has been dispelled. I think this issue is not over."
Though the vote came with some turmoil, Whale thought the Senate made the right choice.

"I believe the Senate made a wise decision on the issue," he said.

Other senators were not in favor of the vote.

"I don't think there is a good reason to be (changing the calendar)," Smith said. "There is no academic justification for it; it's going to create a lot of trouble for various departments, and it will have negative consequences for the majority of faculty and students."

Hill said there wasn't enough concentration on the academic impact of the calendar.

"I think we, as senators, lose our credibility when we fall into the money arguments and don't debate the academic quality issues associated with Central Michigan University's decisions," Hill said. "I do not care if the outcome of the calendar change will cost $3 million or $30 million if it delivers an equivalent value added to students' educational experience. Money seems to be the driving force for all of our major decisions. The only issue that money doesn't seem to drive the outcome of is the decision to go forward with a medical school, which is the only blank check I have seen given to a program in my 33 years at CMU."
Smith said he was confused whether the focus of the discussion was on money or academics.
"The whole discussion really puzzled me, because I never really knew if it was about money or academics," he said. "Whenever Joe Finck spoke in the Senate, it was always to talk about students who had jobs at theme parks that require them to work through Labor Day."

Whale said he could see the points of both the academic and financial arguments.

"Academics are the most important function at a university and should be the driver of any decision," he said. "Whether or not it was given due consideration, I don't know. I can see both sides."

Finck did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.


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