I am glad to have posted something to this blog this morning because Senate this afternoon was a sleeper. The meeting lasted for only one hour, without much substantive discussion.
Fall and Winter Breaks. There was discussion about changing the names of fall and winter breaks to ‘study breaks’ or ‘reading weeks’. The advocates for this think such names would better reflect that they give their students tons of extra work during those week-long breaks from classes. Apparently nothing in Senate rules or other university rules precludes this. I was appalled. People need breaks, holidays, and vacations. This is why unions lobbied so hard for weekends. Carleton has been emphasizing the importance of student’s mental health and ways of coping with stress. Therefore, I want to retain the names of these mid-term breaks, but also would like Senate to mandate that no work be assigned to students during those breaks, much like we stipulate that instructors cannot administer exams during the final two weeks of class.
Contract Instructors on Senate. A motion was put forwards to add a pair of contract instructors to Senate. The motion came from Dean John Osborne via Senate’s governance committee and was beautiful written. I fully support the motion. However, members of Senate seemed irked by who counted as a contract instructor. The original motion defined this as members of CUPE 4600 Unit 2, which maybe should have referred to members of that bargaining unit. But suggestions from the floor were to remove any reference to CUPE 4600, as though there is something dirty or unseemly about unions, and instead just say ‘contract instructors’. Rather than debate such wording on the floor of Senate, a motion was passed to return the matter to the governance committee. It would be a mistake to change the wording to simply ‘contract instructor’ because there are several ways that members of the tenure-track faculty union, CUASA, could also be contract instructors. If retired tenured faculty members come back to teach a few courses, then they do so as contract instructors, even though they are still members of CUASA. Last year when I taught a course in the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, administratively I did so as a contract instructor, even though what happened was Arts & Social Science bought me out of one of my Science courses. Therefore, keep some language about being in the CUPE 4600 Unit 2 bargaining unit in this change to the Senate bylaws.
Senate Finance Review committee. Senate will soon re-populate its Financial Review Committee, which was in a state of suspended animation for many years. Call for nominations to the committee and terms of reference will be coming soon. I honestly am unsure of the purpose of such a committee given the fairly well delineated roles of Senate and the Board of Governors at Carleton, the former of which deals with academic matters and the latter of which deals with financial matters.
Sorry for such a boring report, but as Rich Terfry said, “A home run every time would get boring.”