Senate Meeting of 6 May 2021

The original agenda for this meeting included a First Reading of a Policy on Chair Selection being proposed by FSAC. However, in response to multiple commentaries on the draft policy which the Committee received before its meeting that preceded this Senate meeting, the Committee asked to pull the item from the agenda so that it could give proper consideration to the comments submitted.

An information item was on the agenda: a policy statement on the definition of “one credit hour”. The University’s policy is in conformity with standards imposed by CSU and WASC.

Chair Jeffrey Reeder announced plans for Commencement, which will be a combination of in-person and on-line activities. Borrowing from the idea of drive-in movies, guests will attend in their cars. (The event is accordingly being dubbed “Carmencement”.) There will be a stage for graduates to walk across, but they will do this in small groups. Over 1,500 graduates have expressed intention to participate.

There was some discussion of how much role faculty governance played in the planning of this event. Long-standing policy recognizes that Commencement, being of an exclusively ceremonial nature, belongs to the faculty to structure. (Of course, other University personnel are expected to be involved in the logistics.) Most of the planning for this year’s Carmencement was done by University administrators, although the Faculty Chair did play a role in deliberations.

President Judy Sakaki announced that finalists for the permanent position of Provost are being interviewed in the next few weeks. She also announced the departure of Joyce Lopes, University CFO and VP for Administrative Affairs, who will be departing for a new position at U5 = WWU = Western Washington University. An Interim CFO has been announced: Stan Nosek, who formerly held a position in Administrative Affairs and will be coming back from retirement for this temporary appointment.

Provost Karen Moranski had several announcements:

  1.     Several students or student teams in Natural Sciences placed highly in research competitions recently.
  2.     Computer glitches have been repaired, and there were no data breaches.
  3.     Deborah Roberts, AVP for Faculty Affairs, will be returning shortly to teaching in the Nursing Department. Because of budgetary limitations, she will not be replaced. Some of her functions will be performed by the other AVP (for Academic Affairs) and some will be merged with HR (Human Resources).

Business Item #1: At its last meeting the Senate approved a motion to reconsider its vote at the 8 April meeting to endorse a statement on Trigger Warnings that had been prepared by AFC and PDS (Academic Freedom Committee and Professional Development Subcommittee). This reconsideration was motivated in response to a critical statement passed by the Associated Students Senate, which was endorsed by a group of high-ranking administrators. Allegedly there were mis-representations in the document about the extent to which CAPS and DSS had had full opportunities to review and sign on to the document.

It was agreed that the action at the last Senate meeting placed the motion to endorse back on the floor. After some discussion, the Senate voted 14-5 to end debate and then voted 3-16 not to endorse the document. According to additional action taken by the Senate at its previous meeting on 22 April, FSAC is working with PDS and AFC to revise the document and correct errors.

Business Item #2: The Senate heard, for a Second Reading, a proposal from the Engineering Department (with unanimous endorsement from the EPC) to change the name of its MS program to Electrical and Computer Engineering, to reflect better its actual content and goals. The proposal was endorsed 17-0 and will be sent on to the Chancellor’s Office for final approval.

Business Item #3: The Senate heard, for a Second Reading, a proposal from APARC regarding the frequency of program reviews. The current policy is that programs must be reviewed every five years. The proposal is to increase the interval between reviews to seven years. This is actually the “industry standard” and is fully consistent with CSU and WASC guidelines. It is clear that more time is needed to implement changes recommended in the review process, and that de facto the interval is about 7 years now anyway.

There was a question about when this policy will take effect, which was not conclusively addressed. The President must approve the policy before it is final. If all programs slated for review in the next two academic years were “on time”, there would be no reviews for these two years. However, many programs have passed a year or even two beyond the statutory five-year provision for repeated reviews.

It was clarified that stand-alone minors are separate programs and must be reviewed, but minors that accompany majors are included with the major program review.

The proposed modifications were approved by the Senate 20-0.

Business Item #4: The Senate heard, for a Second Reading, a Resolution in Support of the AAPI Community and Related Curriculum. The Resolution had required some “word-smithing”, which was done by a volunteer Senator in preparation for this meeting.

There was considerable discussion about the exact boundaries of our concern. For example, “Anti-Asian” violence in the press recently has also involved Asian-Americans, but not (as far as anyone was aware) Pacific Islanders. Also, Alaskan Eskimos, though officially “Native Americans”, are genetically Asian, having been Mongolians a mere 5,000 years ago. They look like and are often taken for Asians, particularly Japanese (though generally not by Alaskans, who are used to them). In other words, the matter is complex. In the end the Senate decided not to muddy the waters any further and to leave the document as submitted. The Resolution was approved 20-0. Subsequently the Senate voted 18-0 to include the Rationale (which evidently is not generally included in approval of a Resolution unless specifically so stated).

Student Affairs reported that 2,036 students will be living on campus next year, including 187 returning students (most of whom have never been on the campus); the rest are freshmen.

Student Affairs is pleased to have been designated for the third year in a row the “Best Place to Work” in Student Affairs.

Vice Chair Laura Krier, as Chair of Structures & Functions, reported that the Committee’s work on revising the By-Laws will not be finished this term, but a draft of proposed revisions will be brought to the Senate early in the next term.

FSAC Chair Paula Lane reported that next year’s FSAC Chair will be Richard Whitkus.

-- Submitted by Rick Luttmann

Resolution in Support of AAPI Community and Related Curriculum

RESOLVED: That the Sonoma State University Academic Senate stands with members of the Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities and unequivocally condemns all forms of anti-Asian and anti-Pacific Islander rhetoric, harassment, violence, and microaggressions. Be it further

RESOLVED: That Individually and collectively as a university community we direct our energies to stopping AAPI hate, rhetoric, harassment, violence, and microaggressions through our teaching and curriculum, and furthermore pledge to use our voices and positions to increase understanding and reduce xenophobia on our campus and in the community. Be it further

RESOLVED: That in response to the aforementioned increase in anti-Asian and anti-Pacific Islander rhetoric, harassment, violence, and microaggressions, and in response to the intent of legislation and CSU policy stemming from AB 1460, that Sonoma State University direct resources and support toward the development and delivery of academic coursework in Asian-American Studies.

RATIONALE: The Sonoma State University Senate, according to its own constitution, serves as the primary consultative body in the University in formulating, evaluating and recommending to the president policies concerning curriculum and instruction, and additionally serves as the primary body through which members of the faculty may express opinions on matters affecting the welfare of the University. Harassment and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) persons, families and communities have increased since the start of the COVID-

19 pandemic and this nation’s history of white supremacy, misogyny, systemic racism and colonialism undergird the environment of hate, intolerance, and violence against Asian-Americans. The increase in hate crimes against Asians is a direct result of white supremacist, anti-Asian xenophobia that has persisted in North America for centuries to keep Asian-Americans as “perpetual foreigners.”