The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met Monday in a hybrid format in the Ruthven Building to discuss SACUA’s summer retreat, mask policies for the upcoming fall semester, and student representation. lecturers in the faculty senate.
SACUA members first discussed inviting Past Presidents to speak at the SACUA Annual Retreat, an off-campus gathering before the fall semester in which members reflect on the past year and plan the next one.
SACUA President Silvia Pedraza, Professor of Sociology at LSA, proposed that SACUA invite David Potter, President of SACUA from 2008 to 2009 and Professor of Greek and Roman History, to talk about the history of SACUA. Potter was also a guest speaker at last year’s retreat. Pedraza said SACUA should take this opportunity to better record and preserve the history of SACUA.
Rebekah Modrak, a SACUA member and professor in the School of Art and Design, said she also thinks it would be beneficial to invite retired past SACUA presidents to bring different perspectives on the administration of the University over time.
“It would be interesting to hear from people before the University administration becomes so autocratic,” Modrak said. “To hear their views, but also just (to hear) a range of people from different parts of the University (and of) different genders.”
Past SACUA presidents mentioned by members at the meeting include Scott Masten, Neil Marsh, Bill Schultz and Robert Ortega.
SACUA members then discussed the inclusion of UM speakers in SACUA meetings. Pedraza highlighted the concerns expressed by professors regarding the ability of professors to participate in the Faculty Senate.
“Sometimes people are afraid to include lecturers in the Faculty Senate because there are so many of them,” Pedraza said. “They’re afraid that if you include the speakers that they’ll basically be a vote, that they’ll take the vote on whatever issue they vote on because there are so many of them.”
Pedraza said Kirsten Herold, vice president of the Teachers’ Employees Organization (LEO)Suggested SACUA includes Lecturers II, III and IV at meetings. These lecturers tend to teach more classes and stay at the University for longer periods of time than I lecturers. Herold said she hopes this will allay people’s concerns about lecturers dominating discussions at the SACUA.
Simon Cushing, a SACUA member and professor at UM Flint, said he believes all speakers should have a say in the topics that affect them.
“I understand the saying that I speakers are just temporary appointments, but they still deserve a voice on the issues that matter to them,” Cushing said. “But of course they wouldn’t have anything to say about the research requirements or anything like that, because that’s not part of their contracts.”
SACUA then discussed their vision for mask requirements in the fall semester. Modrak said she thinks the University should leave the decision of whether or not to require a mask in classrooms to individual instructors.
“I’ve read a lot of policies from other university websites about this, and many of them give the instructor autonomy to decide whether they have masks in their classes or not, which I would recommend. “, Modrak said. .
Pedraza agreed that instructors should have the freedom to decide whether or not to require masks in classrooms. She said she felt the masks were detrimental to the quality of her teaching and were unnecessary for large classrooms.
“I found it very difficult teaching a class of 75 students – I have a slight accent – and wearing a mask,” Pedraza said. “Last year, I felt like I couldn’t express myself very clearly. Sometimes I didn’t understand my students either. And on the other hand, we were pretty far apart, certainly more than a meter eighty.
Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott, SACUA member and Spanish teacher, also said he believes in the importance of empowering instructors on this matter as the environments in some buildings on campus are not safe enough to teaching without a mask.
“I usually teach in the (Modern Language Building), which is one of the worst buildings on campus,” Villalobos-Ruminott said. “In the basement of this building, we have rooms without windows. We must protect faculty, lecturers and graduate students who teach.
SACUA then addressed the response rate on their Administration Evaluation Committee (AEC). Each year, SACUA’s AEC designs a survey to gauge faculty members’ opinions and perceptions of academic administrators. The response rate for the survey this year was 40%, which was considered low by the AEC.
Tom Braun, a SACUA member and professor of biostatistics in the School of Public Health, cited the administration’s lack of confidence in the survey results and possible fear of retaliation as reasons for the low response rate.
“The main way this university can get people to fill out a survey is to use the survey to rate people,” Braun said. “I also know that there is always this fear of reprisals. People are afraid to put written comments on things because they will be identified. It’s too easy to know who is talking about a certain situation.
Kentaro Toyama, a SACUA member and professor at the School of Information, said the number of interactions between faculty members and administrators is a factor to consider when reviewing survey results. .
“We may need to do a different baseline survey to ask what percentage of the faculty really makes real sense to the provost, president, their deans, and then incorporate whatever we get from that baseline into the results of the investigation as well,” Toyama said.
Pedraza said she will recommend to AEC members a few survey experts introduced to her by her colleague in the sociology department to help them improve their survey design and response rate.
Daily staff reporter Tina Yu can be reached at [email protected]