Mobilization signals next stage in campus controversy
THE SANTA CLARA
February 27, 2014
Members of the Faculty Senate have organized a Faculty Action Committee in response to the Board of Trustees’ refusal to overturn the decision of President Michael Engh, S.J., to remove elective abortion coverage from the university’s health insurance plan.
The nine-member committee first met on Feb. 19 and will continue to work periodically on advising the Faculty Senate Council on how to proceed in response to the decision.
“Now our committee is taking up the (task) of examining all courses of action available to the faculty senate,” Sundstrom said. “(As a committee) we are not going to be taking action, but we are going to be considering possible alternatives that the Faculty Senate might want to consider.”
In addition to the fact that elective abortion coverage was revoked, there is a concern to address the way that the decision was made. The Faculty Senate believes that shared governance procedures, which dictate that important university decisions should take into account the input of faculty and staff, were violated in Engh’s decision and the subsequent backing from the Board of Trustees.
“There are two issues at stake. There is both what has been done, which is changing the way our health care policies are written regarding abortion coverage, and how it was done,” said Laura Ellingson, committee member and director of Women’s & Gender Studies. “The president made this decision without engaging in the shared governance process which would have involved having to consult the appropriate faculty committees and go before the Faculty Senate council to work through the system.”
In last week’s State of the University address, Engh stated that he was taking steps to improve shared governance procedures by making an effort to have one-on-one meetings with faculty and staff, and to promote more communication between the Board of Trustees and faculty. Ellingson said that the committee is stressing the importance of shared governance.
“What we insist upon … is a fair, formal system of consultation,” said Ellingson. “The resolution was an objection to the fact that it was a kind of policy decision that was fairly important and significant, and that we feel ought to come under existing set of governance processes. What this is about is making sure that our existing shared governance processes are respected and carried out.”
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