The University Record, September 28, 1992

Assembly to work on revision of faculty/staff harassment policy

By Mary Jo Frank

The Senate Assembly and Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) have been asked by President James J. Duderstadt to lead faculty discussion on revisions of the University’s 1988 interim policy on Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment by Faculty and Staff in the University Environment.

SACUA Chair Ejner J. Jensen reported at the Sept. 21 Assembly meeting that the University’s General Counsel has recommended the policy be revised in light of the June 22 Supreme Court ruling on hate speech in a St. Paul, Minn., case. The five-member majority of the court ruled that legislatures may not single out racial, religious or sexual insults or threats for prosecution as “hate speech” or “bias speech.”

Elsa K. Cole also has recommended that the 1989 Interim Policy on Discrimination and Discriminatory Conduct for students be revised because it would not withstand a First Amendment challenge. (Work is under way on a Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities.)

Assembly representatives will be asked to discuss parts of a draft of a revised policy that would affect faculty with their constituents and contribute ideas gleaned from those discussions to Assembly deliberations on the revised policy.

The Assembly this year also will consider ways to evaluate administrators, the effects of eliminating mandatory retirement for faculty, and the possibility of publishing a faculty newsletter, Jensen said.

A task force on evaluation of administrators, chaired by English Prof. John R. Knott Jr., will report its findings to the Assembly in October for discussion in November.

A task force studying the implications of lifting mandatory retirement for faculty, chaired by philosophy Prof. and Chair Steven L. Darwall, is expected to report to the Assembly in January.

George J. Brewer, professor of human genetics and of internal medicine, introduced the idea of publishing a faculty newsletter.

The Assembly voted unanimously to organize a committee to look into publishing a newsletter and consider other ways the faculty could communicate with each other, including an electronic mail conference and through The University Record.

The Assembly continued a discussion, which began last spring, about the need for independent legal advice for faculty, and is expected to vote in October on establishment of a Legal Advisory Council.

As proposed, the council would provide faculty members an opportunity to discuss their concerns in an informal context. It would also maintain a list of attorneys who have indicated a willingness to assist faculty members for reduced or no fees. The council would not be authorized to give legal advice nor be responsible for the quality of legal advice or services offered by any attorney to whom it might refer a faculty or staff member. The Legal Advisory Council would be evaluated after three years.

Jensen also announced that Jean Goeppinger, professor of community health nursing, resigned from SACUA in July due to other professional commitments. John R. Birge, associate professor of industrial and operations engineering, will serve the remainder of Goeppinger’s term, which expires April 1994.