The University Record, October 30, 1995
Senate Assembly proposes new grievance policy
By Jane R. Elgass
Senate Assembly members last week tabled for further discussion a proposed new model grievance policy because of a recommendation that calls for a binding decision by a faculty committee.
In presenting the proposal to Assembly members, Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs Vice Chair Thomas E. Moore noted that the drafting committee worked to develop procedures that would assure equity and prompt, fair resolution of disputes while keeping the grievance within the unit's faculty. "There is no central judiciary," he said.
Moore noted that Assembly members have to determine the best system for themselves, with the proposal then being worked out with the provost for Universitywide implementation.
"This is not written in stone," he said. "We need the best possible plan from the faculty's view, and then negotiations begin. We're constructing a path to the moon and seeing where we can go."
During general discussion following Moore's presentation, Bernard Patrick Maloy, associate professor of kinesiology, called the binding decision recommendation "a fatal flaw of the document," noting that it might be appropriate for issues of tenure, but that it likely would not stand on charges of harassment or discrimination.
Moore noted that the proposed procedures are an "internal solution" that do not preclude moving to the court system.
Wilfred Kaplan, professor emeritus of mathematics, expressed concern about how "grievability is decided," noting that currently deans have taken the position that an issue cannot be grieved.
"Should a small group decide if it is valid to go ahead?" Kaplan asked. "Is this needed? It would have helped over the last two years."
Moore said the committee felt this was not needed "as it comes closer to a central judiciary," adding that the monitoring and training process would be sufficient.
Here are the principal recommendations contained in the Faculty Grievance Report:
Filing a request for a Grievance Review Board (GRB) equates prompt formation of a GRB.
Final decision of GRBs should be binding on all parties.
A central faculty monitor should be designated with overview of all grievances.
Records should be kept on each grievance appeal and on each step of the grievance process.
All parties involved in the grievance should be kept informed at all stages of the process.
There should be symmetry in response time for grievances for both administrators and faculty.
The purview of the grievance process should be expanded from just procedural issues to substantive issues at the discretion of the GRB, particularly in cases involving harassment or gender and racial issues.
A training program for GRB chairs and ombudspersons should be initiated.
All those designated in grievances should participate fully and truthfully.
Units should adopt comparable and essentially identical grievance procedures.
Access to confidential files should be extended to the GRB chair as well as GRB members and the grievant at the discretion of the chair.
The content of proceedings and documents involved in grievances should be held in strict confidence.