Michigan State University’s Faculty Senate gathered on Zoom for their first live-streamed meeting Wednesday.
The senate passed motions to campus policing, proposals on the Office for Civil Rights and a resolution to faculty caregivers impacted by COVID-19.
Director and coordinator of Upward Bound of MSU Stephanie Anthony presented motions regarding policing at MSU submitted by professor of voice Jane Bunnell, media and information professor David Ewoldsen and herself.
"The Michigan State University community comprises some of the best and brightest individuals I think in the world, I don't think I'm totally biased," Anthony said. "I'm really excited that we've tried to pull together some policing options that we think have value especially in view of what is happening in the world today."
Of the seven proposed motions, the following six passed:
Motion 1: The MSU police department implements monthly community-oriented gatherings in which the police department personnel shall gather and interact with MSU community members to develop positive relationships between Police department members and the MSU community.
Motion 2: For MSU police department officers to discontinue any policies that target in a discriminatory manner at risk, or marginalized communities within the MSU community, such as racial profiling and ICE policies.
Motion 3: The MSU police department to implement training programs held on a monthly basis focusing on implicit bias, crisis intervention training for law enforcement, de-escalation programming and trainings that facilitate high-quality interactions with victims of relationship or sexual violence.
Motion 4: Encouraging the publication of demographic data related to traffic stops, hiring data, officer-focused complaints, and arrest data on or made available through the MSU police website. This includes information and access related to timely release of body camera footage in disputed cases.
Motion 5: Intensive investigation into prospective officers, and current officers which would reveal memberships in organizations and groups that directly contrast with the safety and care of black and brown persons in the MSU community. Additionally, extensive review into social media usage to discover those who sympathize or participate in hate groups. Motion five was amended to broaden the hate groups originally listed.
Motion 6: Intensive investigation into prospective officers, and current officers which would reveal memberships in organizations and groups that directly contrast with the safety and care of LGBTQ persons in the MSU Community. Additionally, an extensive review into social media usage to discover those who sympathize or participate in actions that promote hatred toward and/or discriminate against LGBTQ persons.
These motions will later be presented to the new MSU vice president for public safety and chief of police Marlon Lynch by the presenters.
The seventh motion rejected the use of military equipment on the grounds of the university but was not up for voting due to the word choice, “military force equipment and/or tear gas,” and that they can be used only for training purposes.
Office for Civil Rights
The Ad Hoc Committee on the Office of Civil Rights presented three proposals to the faculty senate, only passing one on Wednesday.
The first proposal, policies and practices related to creating a safe, inclusive campus environment, was met with concerns that Vice President of the Office for Civil Rights Tanya Jachimiak was not consulted in the draft of the proposal.
The proposal specified policies and practices for faculty, staff and administrators when reporting wrongdoings or suspicions of any form of sexual harassment or abuse. MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. addressed some of the wording be looked over as it could become misleading.
"I just think there's an opportunity here to make this maybe something that would be more consonant with what the law suggests has to be done," Stanley said. "I think it's maybe important that some of these suggestions be reviewed for how much they conform with what currently federal law suggests."
The second resolution, on administrator, faculty and staff training to create a safe, inclusive campus environment, passed by a majority.
The resolution requires enhanced sexual harassment training for all higher-level administrators, deans, and program and department chairs.
The third resolution that did not go to a vote would require all deans and higher-level administrators be reviewed at least every other year. Some pushback came from the timeline of these reviews as they could be done yearly.
James Madison professor Andaluna Borcila pointed out how the importance of administrative review has been regularly addressed over the last three years since the sentencing of ex-MSU doctor and convicted child predator Larry Nassar.
"We saw that there were people who voiced the issues that they had anonymously and they were dismissed and people who stood up and voiced their issues in-person and they were dismissed and that happened over and over again so clearly faculty think that administrative review is really important," James Madison professor Andaluna Borcila said. "This seems to me to be a very reasonable attempt to get at something that was really critical here at our institution. Our upper administration failed us and they failed to listen to the voices of faculty and if (Former MSU Dean William Strampel) would've not stayed in the position he was in he wouldn't have been able to enable Nassar."
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The Faculty Senate passed a resolution recognizing that all faculty have been affected by the COVID-19 and their efforts to continue their research, administrative responsibilities and teaching their students under the difficult circumstances.
"We are dealing with a crisis and we need to do much more," Borcila, who presented the resolution, said. "The resolution that would have in front of you is calling for the faculty senate, the main representative faculty body of our institution, to acknowledge this collective crisis that all faculty, with faculty caregivers in particular, have been and are facing."
The resolution also acknowledges the wellbeing of faculty caregivers and for the university to commit to financial support.
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