University Senate revises several

by Sam Kean

While joking about the stalled presidential election, the University Senate managed to finalize a number of issues Thursday.
In the student-faculty governing body’s meeting, members addressed rising health care costs, moved to provide a Senate voice for minority groups and revised various academic policies.
The Senate approved four recommendations made by the University’s Health Plan Task Force last month, which would establish a permanent employee benefits advisory committee, seek flexibility in health care plans offered by state insurance providers while also pursuing separation from them, maintain a diverse and stable number of health care plans, and extend health benefits to domestic partners.
Some discussion arose about expanding the term “domestic partners” to include non-married opposite sex couples. Task force chairman Richard McGehee said the task force has left this option open.
The four recommendations will now be given to the Board of Regents for consideration.
Having served their purpose of making recommendations, the current task force members were named to the interim benefits committee, to advise on health plan negotiations in the next few months.
In the University Senate itself, minority groups may soon have a stronger voice. The senators passed a motion to create an Equity, Access, and Diversity Committee.
An existing committee set up to monitor the interests of women in the Senate has been extremely successful, according to a special task force document.
The EADC will absorb the women’s committee and broaden its charge to make sure both racial and sexual orientation discrimination concerns have a voice in the Senate.
However, the Senate Disabilities Committee affirmed its independence, citing fears that its unique concerns would be drowned out in the new committee because of competing interests.
Other faculty senators raised similar concerns.
Special task force chairwoman Sara Evans said the new committee would provide strength in numbers. She also assured members each minority group would have a strong voice for its concerns.
The Senate also passed three academic initiatives.
Upon implementation in the near future, students will only be allowed to repeat a course once, with both grades appearing on the student’s transcript. This policy will not apply retroactively, and only the better grade will count toward a student’s grade point average.
In addition, the senators passed a resolution forbidding students from distributing to others or posting class materials, such as lecture notes, on the Internet or elsewhere, without the instructor’s express written consent.
For faculty, the Senate reaffirmed a little-known policy that professors cannot benefit financially by forcing students to purchase class materials they have authored, unless they receive department consent.