Senate Meeting of 20 May 2021

This meeting is the last of the ‘20-‘21 academic year.

President Sakaki announced that the search for a permanent Provost has concluded and that Interim Provost Karen Muranski has been selected for the permanent position.

She also reported on a recent Board of Trustees meeting:

  • Covid-19 vaccines will be required of all students, faculty, and staff for the fall 2021 term.
  • A committee has been formed to look into fossil-fuel divestment from University assets.
  • There is excellent budget news for the coming year since the State has a significant budget surplus.
  • Efforts will continue to be undertaken to make CSU more accessible to those demographic groups that have traditionally been under-represented.

President Sakaki was also asked (by the ERFSA Senator) how she plans to respond to the Faculty Hearing committee’s ruling on the conflict between the CCJS faculty and the Social Science dean. She said she has not finalized her thinking yet.

The President was also asked (by the ERFSA Senator) how she intends to respond to the recent negative publicity the University has earned due to complaints by a number of female students about gender-bias against them by a Hutchins faculty member who specializes in teaching film. She said she has not finalized her thinking yet. She and Provost Muranski both said simply that "an investigation is underway" which will be "fair to all parties".

It is unfortunate that the Press Democrat – and apparently the students as well – have conflated two distinctly separate issues. One is the matter of "Trigger Warnings", a matter which the Senate knows well. In the end there seems to be agreement that Trigger Warnings are appropriate if not mandatory, at the beginning of a course when there is course content of such a repugnant nature that some students may be traumatized. Such content need not be removed, but students, being forewarned, have several options as to what to do about the prospect of possible traumatization – including skipping class that day, steeling themselves and watching it, consulting with DSS or CAPS, etc. As a principle of Academic Freedom, the right of a film teacher to include films that deal with serious social issues is not in question. Such social issues may be unpleasant, but of course they must be faced and cannot be ignored. That's one of the serious purposes of having film as a component of culture.

The other issue is sexism, and in particular the alleged marginalization of women in this instructor's classroom. It is worth noting that no one has accused him of sexual improprieties. It's a matter of overlooking women, demeaning them, ignoring them – in short, a gender bias. This is a serious charge, but also one that is difficult to document as well as to resolve. And certainly not in the same class as sexual improprieties.

Provost Muranski announced that a search is underway for a new permanent Dean of Extended Education. In the meantime, Jason Lau and Stacie Bossick are sharing the responsibilities. There is also a conversation going on about the direction that Extended Ed should be taking in the future.

She reported that the structure of leadership in the Provost’s office is under discussion, in part due to unhappiness among the faculty in the elimination of the position of AVP for Faculty Affairs as incumbent Deborah Roberts returns to the Nursing faculty. The Provost will shortly circulate a structure tree showing the AVPs and their assigned responsibilities.

In response to a Senator’s question about the Senate’s request two years ago to appoint a University Ombudsperson, the Provost indicated that discussions about such a position are in process, including consultation with the local CFA Chapter.

There was a report from the Graduation Initiative Group (GIG) about progress toward the graduation goals for 2025. Already considerable progress has been realized in raising 4-year and 6-year graduation rates for both freshmen and transfers. The Group has been looking into “Registration Holds” and seeking ways to reduce the amount of time students lose to these, such as workshops, counseling, and periodic progress reports.

Vice Chair Krier reported that Structure and Functions had agreed to replace in the By-Laws the words “majority rule” by “plurality rule” for School elections as well as At-Large elections, in accordance with an action the Senate took earlier in this term.

As required by the By-Laws, the Senate selected two of its members to be At-Large Executive Committee members for next academic year: Michaela Groebbel and Sam Brannen.

The Senate passed a resolution commending outgoing Faculty Chair Jeffrey Reeder for his service. He will be directing the CSU Abroad program in Spain next year. The new Faculty Chair is Lauren Morimoto, Vice Chair is Bryan Burton, and Secretary is Emily Clark.

-- Submitted by Rick Luttmann