Academic Senate Attendees

Senate members were heartened to see that attendance was high at this week's Academic Senate meeting. (Signal photo/ Kerry Young)

On February 9, Stan State held its second Academic Senate meeting of the spring 2021 semester. Topics discussed included the transformation of academic spaces to accommodate our needs during the pandemic, a new program proposal, a preferred name use policy change, a potential change to general education requirements, and some general announcements. 

Discussion of Academic Spaces in the Fall Semester  

One topic that sparked much conversation was that of how academic spaces can be transformed to be useful during pandemic times. Specifically, attendees of the meeting discussed how physical spaces might be transformed in order to accommodate the eventual reintroduction of students.

While many ideas were discussed, the consensus was that more planning involving a collaboration between faculty and administration is needed. 

Provost Kimberly Greer commented that we have been in the process of planning for almost a year. Each semester, plans have had to be reevaluated to fit with the current state of the pandemic. However, she also acknowledges how this semester is different. “I see this fall a little bit different because it feels like the first opportunity to start building the bridge back to whatever our new normal looks like.”

While there is hope to one day be back on campus, Greer said that due to all of the constraints such as limited space for social distancing, limited vaccines, and potential variants of the virus, she does not think that this fall we will have the majority of classes take place in person on campus. Greer reiterated that the top priority is the health and safety of the campus community.

Geography and Environmental Resources BS Program Proposal

Stan State Senators voted 42-0 in favor of the creation of a Bachelors of Science degree in Geography and Environmental Resources. 

Preferred Name Use Policy

A first discussion was held on the preferred name use policy here on Stan State’s campus. According to Stan State's University Values, our community strives to be inclusive and respectful of all. Addressing people by their chosen name is a crucial part of respecting the individual identities of those within our community.

With this policy, the goal of the University Education Policy Committee (UEPC) is to ensure that students keep their right to first name selection on PeopleSoft. The proposal would allow for a feature of PeopleSoft to be turned on, in turn creating policy that dictates future governors cannot simply ‘turn it off’ without first holding a governance, explained Committee Chair Cathlin Davis. 

Paul Morgan, Lecturer Faculty Representative and professor of sociology was first to raise concerns, acknowledging the importance of being referred to by the correct first name, but reminding the Senate of the importance of last names as well. “There are a number of students who don’t maintain their last name when going through a name change process, for any number of reasons, both for those that are trans and non-binary, but also for those going through divorces.”  

Senator Davis responded saying, “We originally had first and last names in our policy, but were later told that the PeopleSoft feature only allows the change of first names,” going on to add, “it’s not fair. The feature should be there.”

Attendees went on to discuss the matter in the chat, pointing out that our progress should not be limited by a software, and that UEPC should address this issue at its source, with PeopleSoft. 

Food pantry

Morgan made the announcement that this semester there is going to be an adjustment to the student food pantry.

Thanks to Jen Sturtevant, Stan State Care Manager, students can now receive food at both food block distributions. This means that students can go to multiple food box distributions, which happen every other week. "They can double their opportunity," Morgan said.

For those who are experiencing any food insecurity, this doubled opportunity to receive support from the campus will help alleviate the burden.

Black History Month Event

February is Black History month and in recognition, Senator Mary Roaf, professor of ethnic studies, announced that the third annual ethnic studies Black History Month program is happening. The event will be held virtually on February 26 from 5:30-8:00 p.m.  

Roaf added, “with everything being remote this year, this is actually launching a series of spring events that are going to be focused on a variety of issues and topics affecting African American, as well as diasporic African communities.” 

Wellness Workshop 

Senator Jennifer Staffero, counselor at psychological counseling services, shared a link to help support the mental and physical health of those who are suffering. This is especially helpful to students, faculty, and staff alike considering the hardships we have all faced during this pandemic.

The next Academic Senate meeting will be held on February 23.

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