SSU Academic Senate Meeting of 9 September 2021

The President reported:

            > Chancellor Castro will visit SSU on Wednesday 29 September.

            > New Trustee Julia Lopez will visit on Friday 24 September.

            > The BoT will meet (virtually) on Tuesday/Wednesday 14/15 September, and on Tuesday will hear a report on the state of the CSU for the next 10 years.

            > One of our anthropology graduates won a significant prize.

            > There will be a ballot drop-box near the flagpole for the 14 September recall election.

            > The highly unpopular Training Sessions that all faculty and staff are required to take are mandated by Court Order when the University lost a lawsuit over serious long-term debilitation experienced by a student due to heat stress. The HR department is reviewing whether all employees must take all trainings.

            > Scheduling guidelines are out but not yet cleared with the CFA and WASC. There is some concern about “hybrid” courses, taught both in-person and on-line.

Laura Lupei gave a presentation on the Budget. The campus’s revenues will increase for 21-22, but expenses will increase also, leaving a deficit of $11,200,000. The University is dipping into its reserves for some of this, since the current year certainly qualifies as a “rainy day”. Other methods of dealing with the deficit include Federal pandemic money, hiring slowdowns, roll-forwards, putting AB 1460 (the ethnic studies reqirement) on hold, and some under-enrollment (see paragraph below on enrollment). Many of the off-line funds (parking, GMC, health center, etc) are in some trouble but not yet at crisis level. The Chair observed that faculty are often skeptical of budget “crises”, because it seems that virtually always some available pots of money are mysteriously found and the problems are resolved.

The State has appropriated some one-time money for the CSU, including

> $  57 million for mandatory costs,

> $  50 million for facilities and infrastructure,

            > $155 million for the graduation initiative,

            > $299 for restoration from the pandemic.

We then had a report on enrollment. The graph of the University’s total enrollment between 2010 and now looks like a lop-sided parabola, increasing from 8,200 in 2010 to a high of 9,240 in 2017, followed by a precipitous drop to 6,900 this year. This year’s enrollment is significantly under projections, but the Chancellor’s Office will fund us for the targeted amount instead of the actual. Some campuses are over-enrolled but they will also be funded at targeted levels instead of their actual.

Some programs that had previously been declared “impacted” (limitation on new enrollments) have been cleared, including biology, business, coms, and Hutchins.

The University will do more recruiting outside its service area.

The Provost acknowledged that we must get better at forecasting enrollments. This year we have a high number of upper-division transfers, but insufficient seats for them. There will be a try-out of a new program of pre-enrolling students in their major courses.

To deal with the budget gap, the Provost will leave open certain vacant positions. She will also pursue grants and begin a donations program.

The Provost reported that the internal search for an interim appointment as a quasi-replacement for Deborah Roberts’s position (“AVP for Faculty Success”) has still not succeeded. As we are already well into instruction, it will be problematic to cover the new appointee’s assigned classes. Recognizing that the position will be filled by some who has already begun teaching classes this term, she will provide funds for hiring a Lecturer as a replacement. There are no plans whatsoever for how this position will be covered in subsequent academic years.

The Provost also announced plans for refresh of the University’s Strategic Plan, including establishing a vision for Academic Affairs.

The EPC reported that a Bilingual Program submitted by the School of Education was endorsed by it and recommended to the Senate. It may be added on to any existing program, and taken consecutively or concurrently. It involves no new classes, but mostly existing CALS and SPAN courses. The First Reading was waived by a vote of 16-6 and the proposal was then passed by a vote of 20-1.

The Resolution Endorsing a Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism and American History, which was introduced at the previous meeting by Chair Morimoto, was considered for a second reading. The text of the proposed Resolution is included as an attachment below. The Resolution passed by a vote of 18-1.

The Staff representative reported that the Staff council has begun meeting with certain campus officials, including most recently C Dinno and L Negri.

The Student representative gave a speech by video that was very offensive. She took the University (presumably both administration and faculty) to task for enforcing pandemic precautions, but implied these actions were unnecessary, capricious, arbitrary, mean-spirited, and thoughtless. She whined about how students are being deprived of “the College Experience” which they had expected and for which they are paying. It would be more appropriate for her to give this speech to God.

-- Submitted by Rick Luttmann

Resolution Endorsing Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism and American History

Resolved: the Sonoma State University (SSU) Academic Senate endorse the Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism and American History from the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Resolved: the SSU Academic Senate calls on the SSU President to endorse this statement as well as CSU Chancellor Castro.

Resolved: that this resolution be distributed to the faculty of SSU, the ASCSU Chair, the CSU Board of Trustees, President Judy Sakaki and Chancellor Joseph Castro.

Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism and American History

We, the undersigned associations and organizations, state our firm opposition to a spate of legislative proposals being introduced across the country that target academic lessons, presentations, and discussions of racism and related issues in American history in schools, colleges and universities. These efforts have taken varied shape in at least 20 states, but often the legislation aims to prohibit or impede the teaching and education of students concerning what are termed “divisive concepts.” These divisive concepts as defined in numerous bills are a litany of vague and indefinite buzzwords and phrases including, for example, “that any individual should feel or be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological or emotional distress on account of that individual's race or sex.” These legislative efforts are deeply troubling for numerous reasons.

First, these bills risk infringing on the right of faculty to teach and of students to learn. The clear goal of these efforts is to suppress teaching and learning about the role of racism in the history of the United States. Purportedly, any examination of racism in this country’s classrooms might cause some students “discomfort” because it is an uncomfortable and complicated subject. But the ideal of informed citizenship necessitates an educated public. Educators must provide an accurate view of the past in order to better prepare students for community participation and robust civic engagement. Suppressing or watering down discussion of “divisive concepts” in educational institutions deprives students of opportunities to discuss and foster solutions to social division and injustice. Legislation cannot erase “concepts” or history; it can, however, diminish educators’ ability to help students address facts in an honest and open environment capable of nourishing intellectual exploration. Educators owe students a clear-eyed, nuanced, and frank delivery of history so that they can learn, grow, and confront the issues of the day, not hew to some state-ordered ideology.

Second, these legislative efforts seek to substitute political mandates for the considered judgment of professional educators, hindering students’ ability to learn and engage in critical thinking across differences and disagreements. These regulations constitute an inappropriate attempt to transfer responsibility for the evaluation of a curriculum and subject matter from educators to elected officials. The purpose of education is to serve the common good by promoting open inquiry and advancing human knowledge. Politicians in a democratic society should not manipulate public school curricula to advance partisan or ideological aims. In higher education, under principles of academic freedom that have been widely endorsed, professors are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject. Educators, not politicians, should make decisions about teaching and learning.

Knowledge of the past exists to serve the needs of the living. In the current context, this includes an honest reckoning with all aspects of that past. Americans of all ages deserve nothing less than a free and open exchange about history and the forces that shape our world today, an exchange that should take place inside the classroom as well as in the public realm generally. To ban the tools that enable those discussions is to deprive us all of the tools necessary for citizenship in the 21st century. A white-washed view of history cannot change what happened in the past. A free and open society depends on the unrestricted pursuit and dissemination of knowledge.

The following have also signed this statement [spacing is random – Ed]:

PEN America
American Historical Association
American Association of University Professors

Association of American Colleges & Universities

ACPA-College Student Educators International

Agricultural History Society
Alcohol and Drugs History Society
American Anthropological Association
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

American Council of Learned Societies
American Educational Research Association
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

American Folklore Society
American Library Association
American Philosophical Association
American Political Science Association
American Society for Environmental History
American Society for Theatre Research
American Sociological Association
American Studies Association
Anti-Defamation League
Association for Ancient Historians
Association for Asian American Studies
Association for Documentary Editing
Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies

Association for the Study of Higher Education
Association for Theatre in Higher Education
Association of College and Research Libraries
Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges

Association of Research Libraries
Association of University Presses
Association of Writers & Writing Programs
Business History Conference
Center for Research Libraries
Central European History Society
Chinese Historians in the United States
Coalition of Urban & Metropolitan Universities (CUMU)

College Art Association
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender History

Comparative & International Education Society
Conference on Asian History
Conference on Faith and History
Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes

Czechoslovak Studies Association
Forum on Early-Modern Empires and Global Interactions

French Colonial Historical Society
German Studies Association
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
Historical Society of Twentieth Century China
Immigration Ethnic History Society

John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Labor and Working-Class History Association
Middle East Studies Association
Modern Language Association

NAFSA: Association of International Educators
National Association for College Admission Counseling

National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education

National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education

National Women's Studies Association
National Coalition for History
National Council for the Social Studies
National Council of Teachers of English
National Council on Public History
Organization of American Historians
Phi Beta Kappa Society
Radical History Review
Rhetoric Society of America
Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media

Shakespeare Association of America
Society for Austrian and Habsburg History
Society for Classical Studies
Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender

Society of Architectural Historians
Society of Civil War Historians
Southern Historical Association
The Freedom to Read Foundation
Urban History Association
Western History Association
World History Association