Senate discusses conduct policy

Laura Kennedy

ISU Faculty Senate members discussed the criteria for a new faculty conduct policy at a special meeting this week.

Faculty Senate President David Hopper, professor of veterinary medicine, said the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to give members an opportunity to inform the conduct policy drafting committee of concerns pertaining to the proposed policy.

Jack Girton, Faculty Senate and appeals committee member, said the draft has been worked on and revised for four years now and has also been looked at by the National Institute of Health and the Faculty Senate Judiciary and Appeals Committee.

Girton, associate professor of zoology and genetics, said there have been both past and present cases concerning faculty members’ academic freedom rights in the classroom, which is why the conduct policy is important. “If a faculty member is called upon [right now and] charged with misconduct that they believe is simply a expression of their freedom of speech and academic rights, we need a firm and clear policy that allows them to receive due process,” he said.

Temporary faculty and administrators should have more emphasis in the policy with regular faculty members, Girton said, and the sexual harassment portion of the policy needs to be examined by committee members.

“It gives us special protection to address controversial subjects in the teaching context,” he said. “The teaching context is a unique and very special thing in our society, and we want to go to every length we can to protect it.”

Carl Mize, Faculty Senate member, suggested the use of an ombudsman in conduct issues or cases instead of having them reviewed by the Provost’s Office. “I guess it is difficult to say in a sense, but the Provost’s Office is not upon many as being a neutral party,” said Mize, associate professor of forestry.

Chris Schilling, Faculty Senate member, also discussed the present administrative and senate routes in the appeal process of the code. While administrators currently investigate complaints and decide on the case within 20 days, Schilling said additional criteria should be added. “There are three important things,” he said. “One, the evidence considered, two, the decision made and three, the reasoning for the decision.”

The majority of faculty members at the meeting said they would like to see the new criteria used in the Faculty Conduct Policy. Schilling, associate professor of materials science and engineering, also said he would like to see the new policy clearly state which administrators or faculty members are involved in the conduct cases and what criteria they use during their decision making process.

“It is rather loosely worded,” he said, adding that better quality control of the investigation process and the public record were also issues that needed to be resolved with the new conduct policy.

The next Faculty Senate meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 in Rooms 260 through 262 of the Scheman Building.