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Campus News

Staff, faculty split on Forum politics

Miles Kovarik, staff writer

Staff and faculty are having a bit of a problem coming together this semester. The trouble is that no faculty member is taking the position of co-convener to run Staff Forum meetings, in which staff and faculty discuss and vote on school policies. From the outside of this controversy, it may seem like the problem easy to solve. However, as two meetings, plenty of shouting, and disgruntled looks have shown, the Forum may take a little longer to resolve its problems.

The forum met at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 10, and consisted of approximately 84 members. The main topic of the meeting was filling in the space of the faculty co-convener. According to the by-laws, there must be both a staff and faculty co-convener. There is a staff member acting as co-convener, Katie Green, but the faculty position is empty. This was former MFA Director Pete Turchi’s position until he left for Arizona, and now this position is empty. No faculty member has yet volunteered to act as co-convener.

During the Sept. 10 meeting, the forum body voted Lucy Lawrence as temporary co-convener. This allowed the meeting to take place for that day. Lawrence explained later in the meeting that she was not interested in being the faculty co-convener except for one meeting.

A motion came up to amend the by-laws of the Staff Forum and to get rid of the co-convener position for faculty. This amendment failed in the meeting by not getting two-thirds of the vote. The Forum body has to come up with another solution to solve the problem of the missing co-convener. Either a faculty member has to step up and take the position, or there has to be another amendment similar to the last one.

After the vote failed, John Casey, the Forum secretariat, explained that the Forum could not conduct any business because they were not following the by-laws. According to the Staff Forum website, this means that the bodies Student Life, Human Resources Advisory Committee, Work Program Advisory Committee, Service Learning Advisory, Buildings and Grounds and the Big Marketing Group are all unable to present work to the Staff Forum to vote on. Two other functions: listening to Student Caucus recommendations and electing members of the board of Trustees, cannot happen until there is a second co-convener. Finally, most of the work sent through the Staff Forum goes on to the President for approval. This work now has to wait until the Forum regroups and follows the by-laws.

President Sandy Pfeiffer commented on this fact saying, “I just need a working committee.” He further encouraged the members of the forum, “Don’t just give up on the Staff and Faculty body.”

A member of the Forum brought up the fact that staff outnumber faculty. This would mean that more staff members are able to volunteer for the position. On the same token, another member explained that faculty got a 5% raise this year and staff got a 4% raise. A comment out of the suggestion box said faculty should take this extra money as a sign that they should take up more responsibility. Another comment in the suggestion box was an inquiry asking for a survey to see whether staff or faculty does more work.

“I’ve never found a staff, faculty, volunteer, or student (member) that hasn’t given it their all to all of the tasks they are presented with at Wilson,” Professor of Economics Susan Kask commented during the meeting.

For Kask, it is not a question of faculty being lazy by not volunteering. “It’s a case of specialization and trade; faculty has to divide their time to tasks other than Staff Forum,” she said.
It was also interesting that David Moore, who is on sabbatical, showed up for the meeting. It hinted just how much faculty does work at school functions even with time away. At the same time, some asked the question, “What kind of role model is this for the students when we cannot even fulfill our own duties?”

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