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Academic Senate discusses Barstool controversy, board of trustees disagreements


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The Academic Senate meets virtually and in person at the French Auditorium, Dec. 7.

At its final meeting of the Fall semester, the Academic Senate discussed the controversial Arizona Bowl game, the board of trustees and course modalities. President Bob Davies also reported updates on COVID-19. 

Arizona Bowl Game

Senator Deborah Gray questioned Central Michigan University's decision to play in the Barstool Sports sponsored Arizona Bowl. Gray cited recent controversy around Barstool's founder, Dave Portnoy. 

In a November Business Insider article, three women said they had aggressive sexual encounters with Portnoy.  

"I'm just really worried that this alignment might send a mixed message to prospective students," Gray said, "particularly given our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, supporting victims of sexual assault and to protect our community from the harm that the n-word brings." 

President Davies said CMU was not given a choice in who would sponsor the game, but accepted the invitation for the opportunity it would bring its athletes. Davies said he was aware of the issues with Barstool's leadership. 

Gray said San Diego State University declined the invitation three months ago because it did not want to be associated with Portnoy. She said she hopes CMU will be "vocally anti-Portnoy," but fears that stakeholders will see the Barstool Sports' website and assume the worst. Gray listed Barstool's photo galleries as an example.

"Our values stand in stark contrast to (Barstool) and its leadership," Gray said.

Board of Trustees

Senator David Smith asked a question about the Dec. 2 CMU Board of Trustees meeting. At the meeting, Enterprise Risk Committee Chair Todd Anson said faculty have a "dangerous attitude" towards CMU's enrollment problem. Smith described this as "faculty bashing" and asked Davies to explain what Anson said. 

Davies said Anson's comments were based only on a small part of the meeting and "did not reflect the full discussion."  

"(Anson) is a very passionate person and got carried away a little bit," Davies said.  

The meeting in question was the Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee meeting, which was a discussion of faculty involvement in recruiting new students. 

Course Modalities 

The senate discussed and approved updated definitions of course formats. These modalities include online asynchronous, online synchronous, face-to-face, hybrid and hyflex. 

Chairperson Katrina Piatek-Jimenez said the new definitions were written because of changes due to COVID-19, but should remain after the pandemic is over. Previously, there was no official definition for hyflex at CMU. 

Piatek-Jimenez said ways some classes are taught have changed since the start of the pandemic, which is accounted for in the new definitions. 

COVID-19 Updates 

In his report to the senate, Davies said current COVID-19 safety procedures will continue in the Spring semester. The report encouraged individuals to keep getting vaccinations and booster shots, and said that people who are not vaccinated on campus will still be required to test weekly for the virus.

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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