SDSU faculty members narrowly rejected any change to the Academic Senate constitution April 30.
110 faculty members, or roughly one out of five SDSU faculty members, voted to reject the three proposed amendments.
“I was expecting the good guys to win, and they didn’t,” said Del Lonowski, a political science professor, who spoke in support of the amendments at an informational meeting April 25.
The amendments would have changed the makeup, executive committee and voting process of the senate. In an article in the April 26 The Collegian, Senator Laura Wight, a library science professor, said the driving force behind the change was that some faculty members feel their voices are not being adequately heard on campus. Despite the rejection of the amendments, outgoing senate chairman Joel Hefling, a communications studies and theatre professor, said many lessons were learned.
“There needs to be an opportunity for faculty to get together in an informal setting and talk about matters that are concerning them,” he said.
A fairly large group had input on the amendments, Wight said. The amendments, endorsed by the SDSU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, were then submitted to the senate in early April.
The senate then called for an all-faculty vote on the amendments, as required by the body’s constitution.
Meanwhile, an explanation of the reasons for the changes was e-mailed to some faculty members. The e-mail made some pointed accusations against the university administration and the senate’s executive committee.
Several weeks later, the five-member executive committee replied, sending a point-by-point rebuttal e-mail to all faculty members.
On April 25, the Academic Senate overwhelmingly voted its disapproval of the amendments. Some senators called for the vote after they said some in the university community wondered if it was the Academic Senate itself that was calling for the changes.
An information meeting about the amendments was held on April 26, with approximately 20 faculty members in attendance, said Lonowski.
Eric Hanson, a student senator on the Academic Senate, said only a few faculty members at the informational meeting were undecided when they walked in the room.
“The people we talked to, there were about four or five who were undecided but who decided by the end of the meeting,” he said. “There was a real good chance for discussion to occur for both sides where there hadn’t been a chance for that before.”
Lonowski said the issue probably won’t go away, but will get another look by the SDSU chapter of the AAUP, of which he’s a member.
“The next step comes out of AAUP and what they want to do about it,” he said. “That formal decision hasn’t been made yet.”
AAUP’s primary goals include promoting academic freedom and giving faculty a stronger voice in university decisions.
For his part, Hefling said he is encouraged by the passion of faculty members who are working to make their voices heard. He wasn’t surprised to hear there might be action in the future.
“That doesn’t surprise me that the issue may be pursued,” he said. “I would hope that if it is pursued it would be done in a more effective manner.”
#1.883427:1868652952.jpg:hanson,eric.jpg:Eric Hanson, Academic Senate student senator: