Controversy over university health insurance persists
THE SANTA CLARA
February 6, 2014
Two months ago, Santa Clara’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution opposing previous changes in the university’s health care policy. A meeting Wednesday between the Faculty Senate and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees furthered formal discussion regarding an appeal of the removal of elective abortion coverage.
The meeting, which took place in the Walsh Admistration Building, was followed by a separate deliberation session involving only the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees.
The controversy dates back to last October, when Santa Clara President Michael Engh, S.J. announced the healthcare decision in a letter sent out to university employees.
According to a Jan. 27 letter to the Executive Committee signed by Faculty Senate President Juliana Chang, 215 of the 304 Faculty Senate members who voted on the December resolution decided that the change in health care insurance was “not in conformance with the University’s shared governance structure and (was) therefore invalid.”
Santa Clara’s system of shared governance, which was instituted in the mid-1990s, is a collaborative method that administration, faculty, staff and students utilize to promote broad consultation in decision-making.
In 2011, the Western Accrediting Commission for Schools and Colleges concluded that Santa Clara had “adopted an innovative and engaging process for shared governance that requires continued attention to how it operates,” according to a statement by the organization’s Educational Effectiveness Review team.
“(Engh’s decision) didn’t go through any of that form of shared governance, either in terms of the procedure, in terms of consultation,” said Jane Curry, a political science professor and founding member of the WASC Working Group for Governance and Communication, a university task force charged with redefining shared governance at Santa Clara.
In response to the general outcry, the university released a statement explaining that Engh “is charged with carrying out the University’s mission and upholding its identity as a Jesuit, Catholic university. Central to its Catholic identity is the conviction that the sanctity of human life is a core value that grounds our commitment to social justice.”
Wednesday’s meeting was the latest development in an ongoing effort to appeal and reverse the policy change.
Besides faculty voicing opposition to the decision in open forums and student-sponsored “Teach-Ins” during the weeks following the decision, the flurry of grievances has also led to recent faculty resignations. Last month, Professors Daniel Ostrov and Barbara Molony stepped down in protest from their posts as Santa Clara faculty representatives on the WASC Working Group for Governance and Communication, according to Curry.
The Executive Committee intends to make a recommendation regarding the university’s healthcare coverage to the Board of Trustees at a Feb. 14 meeting, according to Chang.
Contact Nick Ostiller at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4849.