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Academic Senate debates faculty accommodations for quarantining students


asenate10-26

The Academic Senate meets in a hyflex format in the French Auditorium on Oct. 26. 

The Academic Senate passed a resolution encouraging faculty to make accommodations for students who are in quarantine. 

The resolution was debated by senators for much of the Oct. 26 meeting. Some agreed with the gesture because students have had difficulty taking classes in quarantine. Others said the language of the resolution punishes faculty who are not part of the issue. 

“The more accommodations we can make, the better,” Senator Jodi Brookins-Fisher said. “I know it’s demanding and frustrating, but hopefully we can just all do our best.” 

The proposal said the specific accommodations are up to faculty judgement. Some senators said this was necessary because of the variety of needs in different courses. 

Senator Tracy Collins said the resolution is a “slippery slope” towards mandating specific policies for faculty to follow. 

“(The resolution) assumes that most of us aren’t doing the best that we can,” Collins said. 

As a member of the senate executive board, Chairperson Katrina Piatek-Jimenez participated in drafting the resolution.  

“I think that we all believe that the majority of faculty are accommodating students,” Piatek-Jimenez said. “However, there are too many stories on CMU’s campus of faculty who are not providing any kind of reasonable accommodations to students, and as has been noted, we don’t want students who’ve been asked to quarantine to show up to our classes face-to-face. That would not be healthy for anybody.” 

Student Senator Max Ranger disagreed with part of the resolution that said faculty should determine what “reasonable accommodations” are. 

“I don’t think that’s going to change anything,” Ranger said. “The faculty we’re having issues with now—to themselves—their lack of accommodations is reasonable. Maybe not so towards the students, but they deem it reasonable for themselves.”

According to President Davies, a similar resolution was passed about three years ago by the senate. The resolution called for accommodating students who needed to travel for voting in elections. Davies said similar thinking was used in writing the new resolution.  

The senate also discussed other issues during its meeting. 

Shared Governance Task Force 

In a previous senate meeting, Davies said he will be creating a task force to evaluate and improve the university’s system of shared governance. Most of the members have been selected already. 

At the meeting, Senator Andrew Criswell was elected as the faculty senator representative for the task force. 

“I think that the concept of shared governance is an excellent concept,” Criswell said. “But in the last few years, it’s been more of a concept than practice. I’d like to see that concept actually put into practice.” 

Provost Search

In his report, Davies answered a question from Senator Amanda Garrison about the provost search.  

The contract with search firm Greenwood/Asher & Associates will have a base cost of $60,000, Davies said. This number does not include travel, advertising or other costs. 

According to Provost Mary Schutten, the next provost will also appoint the senior vice provost of academic affairs, which has been left vacant by Julia Johnson. Geography faculty member Dave Patton will begin his role as interim on Nov. 1. 

Senate Chair 

Senator Tracy Davis was elected as chair-elect. This means she will become the new senate chairperson in Fall 2022. The current chairperson is mathematics faculty member Katrina Piatek-Jimenez.  

Academic Senate meetings are held from 3:30-5 p.m. bi-weekly on Tuesdays in the French Auditorium. Livestream and recording links can be found on the senate website. 

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