Task force presents draft of plan

Mark Hammontree

The Faculty Senate Task Force for Excellence in Equity, Inclusion and Citizenship presented an initial draft report to the full Faculty Senate at their meeting Tuesday.

Proposals in the report dealt with the upcoming Student Government Association Elections and contained 12 policies and revisions the task force plans to present to the administration and the Elections Board.

According to the draft report handed out to senators, the task force agreed on several areas of reform for elections and campaigns for the SGA elections, including recommendations to add language prohibiting coercion, threats and bribery, as well as language highlighting students’ rights to keep their votes private.

“In response to the Faculty Senate Steering Committee’s desire to affect the Spring 2014 Student Government Association elections, the TEEIC focused its initial efforts on discovering potential areas for election reform,” the draft report stated. “To fulfill this request, the TEEIC has worked closely with numerous groups and officials in an effort that would be characterized as cooperative, progressive and motivated by a genuine desire to develop a model system for student government elections.”

(See also “Faculty senate begins formation, nominees for campus task force“)

Norman Baldwin, head of the task force, introduced the other members of the committee, after which the members addressed questions posed from the senators.

“These guys have met every single week since they were formed,” Steve Miller, faculty senate president, said of the task force.

While the consensus of the Senate was in full support of the task force’s proposal, some senators did raise certain questions about the lack of any proposal regarding enforcement and policing in any of the proposed policies.

Baldwin said the task force discussed the enforcement question at length, but ultimately decided they would not propose any new policing or regulatory bodies outside of the Office of Student Conduct.

“We did talk about all that,” Baldwin said. “We decided that we will put our faith in the Office of Student Conduct in its discretion at handling those penalties.”

The draft report included a proposed addition of a section on every election ballot that would include a statement of the voting rights of students and the Capstone Creed, both of which a student would have to acknowledge that they had read before casting their vote.

(See also “Low participation in SGA elections a disservice to UA“)

Other proposals in the report included raising minimum financial penalties for election code violations to begin at $50, clarifying the rules regarding campaigning in and on residence halls to include Mallet Assembly, Greek houses and on-campus apartments.

At the request of Miller, the task force will revise the language in certain parts of the report before proposing it to the administration and the Elections Board.

“The Elections Board is already at least 80 percent on board with what we’ve got in here,” Baldwin said.

After the task force had presented their report, the senators also heard from the vice president for research, Carl Pinkert, who informed the senators about the various initiatives and areas his office is working on to improve the University’s standing as a research university.

Pinkert said his office is working with each department to improve the efficiency of grant submission and award management at the University.

The Senate also passed a resolution requesting that department faculty be involved in the decision-making process of establishing emeritus faculty.

“Be it resolved, the Faculty Senate requests that department faculty be included formally in the process to develop recommendations for emeritus faculty status for presentation to the Board of Trustees,” the resolution read. “The Faculty Senate also requests that a University policy for developing recommendations for emeritus faculty status for presentation to the Board of Trustees be developed.”

The task force will hold its first open meeting in March, where they will allow attendees an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback to their proposals.

(See also “2014 SGA candidates“)