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The University of Michigan Senate Assembly convened Monday afternoon to finalize a list of proposed amendments to be considered for the University’s sexual misconduct policy

Joy Beatty, chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, began the meeting by noting the importance of faculty input on the policy.

“I did not allow enough time on the agenda to review these items today, but it did come from the committee that has been discussing this for a few months and umbrella policies are going through right now, as we speak,” Beatty said. “There will be some benefit of getting our voices heard, even if it’s not 100 percent of the things we want to say.” 

The Assembly passed a list of eight resolutions to the policy for the University to consider. Among the resolutions, the Assembly asked the University to change the policy to “comply” with due process and prevent scenarios in which a complainant is questioned by a respondent.

Deirdre Spencer, University librarian and SACUA assembly member, led the discussion on grievances in relation to the sexual misconduct policy. 

Spencer brought up a scenario where a person wanted to file a complaint against someone in the Office of the Ombuds, which is a confidential office students can turn to with concerns. In a typical scenario, Spencer said, the person might go to the office for support. But since the complaint was against someone within the office, the individual  did not feel comfortable reporting the complaint to that office.

“Sometimes you need to be able to find someone to talk to with confidentiality, and that sounds like the Office of (the) Ombuds, but there was a situation where the person within (the Office) was the one being complained about,” Spencer said. “It was suggested that they go over this person’s head and make a complaint.” 

Once the resolutions were passed, the Assembly spent approximately 20 minutes discussing ongoing problems surrounding free access of scholarly materials.

Librarian Meredith Kahn raised the issue of free access to scholarly materials within individual schools at the University. She said she supported open access, a type of scholarly work open to all, but noted it’s not always the best option for everyone. 

“The first thing you can do is talk to a librarian,” Kahn said. “Open access, while it’s a noble goal that I personally support, it’s not always the best distribution mechanism for every discipline.”

Kahn discussed the rights faculty have when publishing their work. 

“You can always negotiate the rights to your work,” Khan said. “You should all be negotiating every time you sign a publishing agreement. It is a starting point for a conversation.”

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