The Pioneer

An Open Letter to the Faculty of CSU East Bay:
Limiting Student Representation on Academic Senate is Ill Conceived

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As the former Vice-Chair for the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate I want to voice opposition to Article XII of the Fall 2012 University-wide Election Ballot that proposes limiting student representation on the Academic Senate from 7 to 3 representatives through an amendment to Article V of the Constitution of the Academic Senate.

Passage of Article XII would violate the core values of our university as set forth in the Mission Statement of California State University East Bay. Article XII represents a severe abrogation of student rights that violates the university’s values of inclusivity, diversity, mutual respect, collaboration, and social responsibility. Further, Article XII reached the Fall 2012 University-wide Election Ballot as a result of a petition circulated amongst select faculty by Senate Chair Mitch Watnik and was thus never debated and voted on in the Academic Senate where student representatives could have the opportunity to field arguments against its inclusion on the ballot. Therefore, in terms of both substance and process, I believe that Article XII is ill conceived.

I have the following specific objections to Article XII on the Fall 2012 University-wide Election Ballot:

The petition is inconsistent with the Mission Statement of our university that emphasizes that we will “Continuously improve our efficiency, transparency, and accountability while practicing mutual respect, responsiveness, and collaboration across the University.” On its face Article XII demonstrates disrespect and limits collaboration with our students.

Article XII is inconsistent with the university’s values of inclusivity and diversity as defined in the University Mission Statement. In limiting student participation on university committees, Article XII fundamentally poses inclusivity and diversity of opinion as threats to faculty governance.

Article XII is inconsistent with the university’s commitment to prepare students to be “socially responsible contributors to society” as defined in the University Mission Statement. By limiting the democratic participation of our students, Article XII significantly limits access and opportunities for developing social responsibility.

Article XII is based on the specious claim that students are over-represented on the faculty Senate. Academic Senate Chair Mitch Watnik was quoted in the October 4, 2012 edition of the Pioneer as saying, “The rational [sic] was that there were the faculty members who felt the students were, for lack of a better term, over represented on the Senate, and that our student representation was inconsistent with other campuses.” I reject the notion that students are over-represented. Further, the numbers do not support this assertion. Current student participation only represents 12% in spite of the impact that Academic Senate decisions have on the daily lives of our students. I reject the notion that 12% voting power in any way challenges decision-making or expediency in faculty governance.

Article XII creates an artificial division between students and faculty who have, up to this point, stood shoulder to shoulder in protest of budget cuts, fee increases, and fair faculty and staff contracts. I fundamentally reject any attempts at separation from the students I am committed to serve.

Article XII reached the Fall 2012 ballot through a petition circulated amongst select faculty and was thus never discussed and debated on the floor of the Academic Senate where student opposition could be heard. The very presence of Article XII on the Fall 2012 University-Wide ballot violates due process.

As former Vice-Chair of the Academic Senate, I ask the faculty of California State University East Bay to consider the aforementioned objections to Article XII of the Fall 2012 University-wide Election Ballot.

I feel that passage of Article XII will constitute an abrogation of the democratic rights of students and is both ill-conceived and ill-timed. Combined with exponential increases in tuition, increasing class sizes, increasing limitations to educational access, decreasing educational quality, and ever-present threats of program closures, Article XII reads as a slap in the face to our truly amazing student population.

California State University East Bay
An Open Letter to the Faculty of CSU East Bay:
Limiting Student Representation on Academic Senate is Ill Conceived