The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met virtually on Monday to discuss the Rules Committee charge and a proposed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion faculty task force.
SACUA chair Allen Liu began the meeting with the approval of last meeting’s minutes and updates pertaining to the Faculty Senate. Liu announced that all but two SACUA committee chairs have been filled for the upcoming year. The Government Relations Advisory Committee and the Administration Evaluation Committee have not found chairs for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Liu added that he has finished meeting with select Senate Assembly members to discuss topics for Faculty Senate to focus on this academic year. During these meetings, Liu mentioned that a SACUA newsletter was also suggested.
“An idea that came out in my meetings with some assembly members of possibly creating a newsletter and that senate assembly members can communicate that newsletter with their faculty and units,” Liu said.
The discussion on the rules committee charge continued in this meeting, with SACUA considering how to integrate clinical faculty into Faculty Senate.
SACUA members agreed that more information was needed on clinical faculty and their roles in the different academic units. Donald Freeman, SACUA member and professor of education, volunteered to facilitate and organize the research into U-M’s clinical faculty.
“It’s important, whether or not clinical faculty members should be incorporated into the Faculty Senate structure, to understand what their conditions of employment are, how long they are employed by the university and so on,” Freeman said.
After this discussion, SACUA members Damani Partridge and Kanakadurga Singer presented a draft of an overview for a faculty DEI task force. The unpublished document acknowledges the University’s commitment to DEI initiatives but stresses the lack of steps “to truly attain equity and inclusivity on all three campuses.”
The DEI Committee plans to focus on structural changes that can be made to create a more inclusive work environment for faculty who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
“We’re thinking not only about recruitment of BIPoC faculty, but retention as a key concern,” Partridge said.
Singer and Partridge welcomed feedback from other SACUA members.
SACUA members also began to talk about the politicization of campus events and how faculty members can be protected in such circumstances.
David Potter, Professor of Greek and Roman History and interim Senate secretary, brought an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education”to the attention of Liu.
The article addresses the increasing politicization of college campuses and specifically mentions partisan interference in routine academic procedure. Public universities are frequently painted by conservative media outlets as “breeding grounds” for leftist ideology. As the “Chronicle” points out, public universities in Florida and Georgia face legislation that aims to limit academic freedom.
Potter and other SACUA members expressed concern about the physical safety of faculty and students when controversial speakers and upcoming elections present an opportunity for conflict and harassment.
Colleen Conway, past immediate chair and professor of music education, brought a draft of a Penn State policy to the attention of SACUA. The policy proposes a Behavioral Threat Management Team to help mitigate threats to faculty. The discussion was left unfinished for a future meeting.
Daily Staff Reporter Teagan Stebbins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.