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Departing the Senate, part 1: grumpiness

I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm; and that three or more become a Congress! And, by God, I have had this Congress!

says a fictionalized John Adams addressing the Continental Congress in the musical 1776.

I’ve served on the Faculty Senate for five years now, and been on the Executive Committee as Secretary of the Senate for four years, and we’ve certainly accomplished some good things. But right now, things are annoying and so I’m in a complaining mood. Let me get that part off my chest.

Grumpy reflections #

Did you read the proposals? #

This year it has been glaringly obvious the senators were not doing their homework. The most glaring instance of this came in November when our University President presented to the Senate on a matter involving program review to the Board of Regents. Several senators asked him questions, suggesting they didn’t read any of the provided materials to understand what was being discussed. President Muma very patiently told his last interlocuter that he should read the proposal before asking questions.

The next hand raised, said “I agree with senator (whomever). I also want to know (repeats the uninformed words of whomever).” So not only did this individual not do the homework, he didn’t listen to the President’s previous responses! Sadly this is not an isolated case. Those two in particular, but not exclusively, regularly display this disservice to the Body. The Body doesn’t feel august when we complain about something that is explicitly not related to a topic at hand.

I can understand why administrators don’t want to come to Senate meetings. This year, I’m a little embarassed to be a senator.

Academic Integrity Policy proposals 2022 - 2024 #

Over the last three years, we’ve tried to enact changes to the academic integrity policy. In 2022 and 2023, both attempts were large and over-arching. Both years, the Senate tabled the proposal, giving it not a death, but an un-life. The proposals expired without a vote.

This year, I’m chairing the academic integrity committee, and my goal this year was to make the one smallest possible incremental change that would improve the process. Our Student Conduct Office proposed a one-sentence amendment to the policy that would improve their lives by empowering their office to give educational requirements with a view of descreasing recidivism.

This year it’s a small change, and it’s been tabled again. The conversation prior to the tabling vote was dominated by one individual who expressed her distrust in the division of Student Affairs to administer this fairly. What I hoped would be a simple 10 minute chat followed by a vote devolved into over 20 minutes of demanding safe guards against the administrators from the Student Conduct office.

My personal notes (from which minutes are drawn) just record:

This was a fucking shit show.

The proposal could be taken off the table at the next meeting on March 24, but if one senator continues railing against professionals in our university… well, it doesn’t speak to the health of our institution.

My subtle typographical protest #

As Secretary, I’ve produced the minutes for each meeting (between Exec and senate, that’s once a week). Before this last meeting, I’ve always written “Senate” and “Senator,” emphasizing the proper noun as an item worthy of respect.

This week, I ensured every instance was lower case. That’s my low-key typographical protest that exactly zero people will notice, but I’ll know!1

  1. Yes, I am that big of a Nerd. ↩︎