Nathaniel Schultz | Opinion Columnist

The Academic Senate needs to pull itself together.

Part of the intention of their most recent meeting, which took place on March 29, 2017, was to discuss and vote to amend the resolution titled “Inclusive Training and Funds” that passed at the Feb. 16 senate meeting. In fact, the resolution was nearly the only thing discussed during the meeting. This resolution made the diversity training workshop (GUIDE) mandatory for all faculty. The second part, which states that severe sanctions would be enforced against faculty members that do not attend GUIDE, is a major point of contention amongst faculty.

There was even, it seems, confusion amongst some of the senators themselves as to what exactly was being voted upon in the February resolution. (Why was something voted upon that wasn’t fully discussed? And why did some of the senators vote on something they didn’t fully understand?)

These sanctions seem very drastic and severe for not attending a diversity training. I would argue that instituting sanctions of this level would not make any professor who already does not go for X, Y, Z reason want to go to learn the skills the training is supposed to give them. Rather, this would only make it so the professor would endure the training that they think is pointless, and they won’t bring it into the classroom.

Senator Lisa Manter brought up a petition to amend the “Inclusive Training and Funds” resolution. This petition asks for a task force to make recommendations to the Academic Senate on how to address the concerns regarding the GUIDE from effectiveness, attendance, and faculty concerns of pressured disclosure of private matters, etc.

I like the idea of a task force to check out the effectiveness of the diversity trainings. This makes some sort of sense. However, it is unclear how the six faculty will be chosen and how exactly the task force shall run itself in its deliberations. Does the task force as a group make recommendations? Do they need to be unanimous to make the recommendations? Or shall it be a majority vote amongst the task force that will determine what the recommendations shall be? If the last point is true, there needs to be an odd number to break ties (which is common sense). Or will they be heard from individually as to what they think should be done? I also don’t think it is a good idea to have three out the six be from the same subject field.

While the amendment was  tabled for a discussion separate from the first two amendments that make a task force and set its purpose, it does seem like a good notion to have a suspension of sanctions until the task force can deem them necessary or not for attendance. This was the third part of the amendment petition that has the task force and will be discussed next meeting whether there should be a suspension of sanctions.

Senator Tomas Gomez-Arias proposed three amendments to this petition before discussion started. Two were discussed and ultimately passed: the task force is to be created by the end of the year, and it is to make its recommendations by the end of next academic year. These two amendments were talked about for most of the time, which was ridiculous. If it becomes apparent that the task force will be created, even if you were originally against the creation of the task force, it should have a deadline for its creation and its recommendations. The conversation should have been limited to just these topics, and yet even when Senator Gomez-Arias made a proposal to limited discussion, it was rejected by vote of the senate. By opening the conversation to topics that did not include the amendments nothing really got done.

In the end, the petition was passed 6-3. Therefore, the task force was created.

I have to say that, as one who has never been to an Academic Senate meeting before, my first impression is that of disbelief. The meeting went horribly. The order of the meeting was not ordered at all, the discussion was fruitless, since there was no listening to what was actually said, and it seemed to get very personal towards the end as those in attendance started to insult one another. This makes me think that perhaps the problems that this diversity training is supposed to help fix could actually be fixed if the College hired faculty that knew how to run a discussion, since a majority of the speakers did not seem to know how one works.

Nathaniel Schultz is one of  five new columnists featured in the Opinion Section. He’s double majoring in Integral and Theology and Religious Studies. He hails from Fresno, California and enjoys listening to music, especially 90’s hip-hop. Nathan’s songs of the week include “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus and Mack Down by Sage the Gemini.

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