Academic Senate discusses Election Day, abortion laws

Senators listen to the president and provost's joint report at the first Academic Senate meeting of the 2022-23 year, Sept. 13 in the French Auditorium.

During its first meeting of the fall semester, the Academic Senate discussed the upcoming election and the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

Senate Chair Tracy Davis made an announcement encouraging Central Michigan University faculty members to excuse student absences and refrain from scheduling exams or major projects for the Nov. 8 election. 

“We would recommend that all faculty consider Election Day in their planning for their classes,” Davis said. “That they allow students to maybe have a little bit of leeway when it comes to attendance, especially (if) they need to go somewhere to vote or participate in the election."

The announcement was a suggestion, Davis said, not a requirement. The recommendation was originally brought to the senate on Sept. 11, 2018 by the Campus Vote Project Resolution.  

After an introduction of new senators and the president and provost’s report, Senator Melinda Kreth brought up the June Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The ruling is known for overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and limiting reproductive freedoms like access to abortion. 

“Speaking only for myself, I can certainly hope that the proposal that’s on the Michigan ballot will be approved.” Kreth said. “If it isn’t, what discussions has the (CMU) leadership had in terms of responding?”

A 'yes' vote on the November ballot would create a new right to "reproductive freedom" in the Michigan Constitution. A "no" vote would leave decisions regarding abortion access up to elected officials and lawmakers.

President Bob Davies said the College of Medicine will need to prepare students for all medical professions, regardless of whether the proposal passes. 

“We are already reaching out with various hospitals to have that part of the curriculum,” Davies said, “and then also working with Renee Watson and Student Affairs and others on the mental stress that this may provide.”  

The Academic Senate discussed several other issues during their meeting. 

CMU Board of Trustees meetings 

Davies announced the meeting times for next week’s board of trustees meetings.

Committee meetings will start at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 and the formal session will be at 10 a.m. on Sept. 22. All sessions will be open to the public, he said, and the board website will be updated later this week with agendas and livestream links.

A report of this semester’s enrollment numbers will be given at the meeting, Davies said. This year’s freshman enrollment is higher than last year’s, Davies said, but there are still “just a smidge” more graduating students than new students.

Honors Investigation committee 

Davis made an announcement requesting volunteers for a “committee to investigate changes made to the Honors Program.” Senators Amanda Garrison and Alan Rudy volunteered. 

The committee is being created because of a proposal that was passed at the May 4 senate meeting. There were two parts to the proposal:

1. The senate chair will create a committee to investigate changes made to the Honors Program. The committee will report their findings to the senate's executive board by Nov. 8, 2022.

2. For at least two years, a representative of the senate's executive board will be appointed to the Honors Council to "facilitate timely compliance with the requirements and limitations of the charge of the Honors Council and Honors Program."

Lockdown Browser

CMU is re-examining their current policies and practices about monitoring students during online exams.

This is following an Ohio federal court ruling in favor of a student who challenged Cleveland State University’s policy to monitor students through computer cameras while they took exams. The court found that CSU's monitoring of student exams violated the Fourth Amendment's protections from unreasonable search and seizure.

There are no changes being made at CMU to the Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor system currently in use, Davies said, but this could change if needed.

Academic Senate meetings are held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. bi-weekly on Tuesdays in the French Auditorium. Meeting livestreams and recordings are on the senate website.