Op-Ed: Observations on the Faculty Assembly from Select SGA Representatives

By Jimmy Harrington, Weston Kirby, and Aaron O’Brien Mackisey

As student leaders, we are called to stand up and speak out. As members of Student Government, we have never shied away from either. During a Special Session of the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate on March 4th, 2019, the Senate passed Resolution 014, “A Resolution Affirming SGA Support for the Academic Senate.” This Resolution aims to achieve two principal objectives. First, the Senate wished to clarify what the Academic Senate is, and next, what the “faculty assembly” both is and is not. Through this Resolution, SGA affirmed its support for the Academic Senate, while explaining why the “faculty assembly” is an unofficial body of the University. SGA does not deny that faculty members have the right to informally gather and discuss issues. But by the same token, students have the right to know that those informal gatherings are just that — informal and unofficial.

Most important for students to first know is that the “faculty assembly” is not the Academic Senate. The Academic Senate is the proper governing body of the University, subject to the authority of the Board of Trustees, which has final say in University matters. It not only includes faculty representatives proportionate to School size, but some administration on the Academic Senate are still faculty, and most others were faculty. SGA is committed to its participation in the University’s shared governance by its seats on the Academic Senate and its determination to act as a bridge between University Administration, Faculty, and students. Just last year, during a time of great confusion for students, SGA stood firmly behind the wishes of Media Studies students when the Senate passed a Resolution that opposed the merger of the Media Studies Department into the new Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art. The University administration recognized the wish of the students and immediately retired that component of the proposal.

Once again, SGA feels the need to act in a time of confusion for students to dispel rumors often heard on campus concerning the “faculty assembly.” Thus, Resolution 014 notes makes clear how the “faculty assembly” has maligned and wrongfully accused the Administration of engaging in thuggish tactics. They have misrepresented decisions to make the University appear as if they are acting in bad faith. SGA will not sit by and witness the disinformation —  that is often characteristic of the “faculty assembly’s” work — manifest itself as truth to the students. SGA wishes the students to know not only that the “faculty assembly” is an unofficial body, but that they often distort facts and sensationalize issues to arouse some collective feeling of resentment among the faculty and students — one that passively distorts the other side in a manner not conducive to the construction of positive solutions.

When there is disagreement, when there is misrepresentation, and hostile accusations, students can always count on their Student Government to be at the table— both recognizing the faculty’s right to meet, but also ensuring that correct information reaches the students. Hence, we stand by Resolution 014 in a commitment to disseminate proper information to the students.

Signed By: Jimmy Harrington (SGA President), Weston Kirby (SGA Vice President), and Aaron O’Brien Mackisey (Senator for the Rome School, Chair of Academic Affairs)

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