In a meeting with the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs yesterday, newly appointed chair of the committee Ed Rothman spoke about the importance of open meetings and open dialogue between members.
A professor statistics at the University, Rothman said he wanted “very few executive sessions,” which, under current rules, are currently closed off to the public and members of the press. He added that, to create a more open atmosphere, members of SACUA — the leading faculty governance body on campus — ought to voice their opinions on the meeting’s proceedings before critiquing each other’s viewpoints.
Rothman said he was also concerned about the way in which motions are currently brought up in meetings, stating that the rules and discussions within the committee limit the immediate effectiveness of its actions.
“I’m looking for a procedure that speaks mostly to us understanding where we want to go, and that is not so caught up in the rules that we use them to move in a slightly different direction,” Rothman said.
Though some members voiced concern that extended discussions have led to a stalemate in the past, Rothman said he felt the new form of discourse could also give voices to those who would not normally be heard.
“What’s practical about it is that there may be perspectives that weren’t represented before that may be the right answer, and there may be perspectives that attract the majority of us (that) might be the wrong answer,” he said.
In addition to deliberating on the future structure of meetings, SACUA members also suggested ideas for the fall agenda during yesterday’s meeting.
Rothman brought up the issue underlying the potential switch from the University’s current ITS e-mail server to a Google e-mail server, which would be free but might include advertisements.
The committee, Rothman said, should be involved, especially in these considerations in which the image of the University could be compromised if it is seen that advertisements on the Google e-mail server are allowed in exchange for cutting costs.
Rachel Goldman, SACUA member and engineering professor, said she was concerned about the closure of the North Campus Recreation Building on the weekends during the summer. She said the limited working hours could reduce the number of participants in the MHealthy campaign — a University program committed to health and well-being.
“Shutting it down for the weekend is a step to getting rid of it,” Goldman said.
Goldman also brought up the issue of the inaccessibility of whiteboards and chalkboards to professors or faculty who are unable to reach them because “they aren’t six feet tall.”
Gina Poe, recently elected vice chair of the committee and assistant professor of anesthesiology and molecular and integrative physiology, added that members of the University community are discouraged from attending meetings or going to class if they cannot fit into standard-size chairs in the building.
Members at the meeting also voted to establish proxy voting, either through another person or through e-mails, for members who are unable to attend. The subject was brought up by a member who was unable to attend the remainder of the meeting.