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Purdue Senate passes women's representation, COVID impact on faculty resolutions

The Purdue University Senate passed several resolution aimed at helping faculty on campus at its November meeting on Monday.

Posted: Nov 16, 2020 10:41 PM
Updated: Nov 17, 2020 8:31 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The Purdue University Senate passed several resolutions aimed at helping faculty on campus at its November meeting on Monday.

The first resolution provides direction for bringing more accurate female representation onto the Senate. Currently, about 37% of Purdue's faculty is female, but only about 23% of the Senate is female. The resolution also opens the door for the formation of a new committee where Senate members can anonymously report any bullying or harassment happening from colleagues.

Professor Audrey Ruple, Chair of the Equity and Diversity Committee, said it was intentional to combine the two, saying she wants to make sure new members are entering a safe and productive environment.

Professor and former Senate President Cheryl Cooky was one member who voiced her support for the resolution. She said she has experienced hostility from fellow Senate members, colleagues on campus and in the world in general, which can create a lack in motivation to participate in meaningful work.

Professor Alan Beck felt that since the resolution combined female representation and harassment, it made the male colleagues the automatic culprits of being hostile or bullying. Professor Ruple made it clear that women can also be hostile towards other women and that isn't the intention of combining the two.

Professors Thomas Siegmund and Sandra Rossie commented that the resolution leaves out other underrepresented minorities. They thought it would be stronger if it included commitments to equitable representation of other minorities.

Professor Ruple said she left out the other minorities to avoid tokenism and overtaxing minorities. And as the body had already moved to suspend the rules and vote on the resolution on Monday instead of waiting until next month, she said that there wouldn't be time to make any additional changes.

Faculty Affairs Committee Chair, Professor Alexander Francis, voiced his full support for the resolution. He said much of FAC's time is spent having to look at bylaws that may need to be rewritten. By having another committee looking at proposing bylaw changes pertaining to the matters in this resolution, he said it would help free up his committee's time to look at other important needs.

The resolution passed with 65 in support, 17 against and two abstentions. Click here to read the resolution.

The second resolution discussed focused on the impact COVID-19 is having on faculty.

President Mitch Daniels said at the start of the Senate meeting that the number one complaint he is hearing from families is students signing up for classes thinking they would be taught in one modality only to have it change completely. He urged the members of the Senate to work towards keeping classes more consistent, but several members said that is easier said than done in some circumstances.

Several noted how there are unnecessary barriers in place to move a class from in-person to virtual, or vice-versa. They discussed the struggles of professors who are also parents and have to juggle childcare versus those who are not parents. And how the pandemic is showing inequities among the capabilities of some faculty compared to others.

The resolution encourages the University to find ways to institute compassionate and supportive policies for faculty in response to the pandemic. Some suggestions in the resolution include allowing professors to choose their preferred modality of teaching without question, reducing service loads and postponing new, non-essential initiatives.

This resolution passed with 76 in favor, eight opposed and three abstentions. Click here to read the resolution.

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