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Vision reporter asked to leave open faculty senate meeting

A Vision reporter was asked to voluntarily leave an open faculty senate meeting Monday afternoon or potentially be “kicked out.”

Dr. Amy Crook, acting president and assistant professor of management, talked to the reporter before the meeting and asked him to excuse himself from the meeting toward the end when the senate began discussing curriculum changes.

According to its bylaws, the governing body will “conduct the business of the Faculty Senate in open meetings.”

The senate can only go into a closed meeting when voted on by a 75 percent majority. No vote was taken on Monday.

During that same meeting on Monday, the senate also discussed changing the language in the bylaws by removing the word “open” from the following sentence: “The Faculty Senate will hold at least 7 regular open meetings each semester.”

However, under the section titled “Responsibilities of the Faculty Senate,” the bylaws would still say that the senate holds “open meetings,” Crook said.

Crook said the change, if implemented, would clarify the senate’s position.

“There was a concern raised from the senate that there could be an alternative interpretation, which is that 7 meetings must remain opened 100 percent of the time,” she said.

Crook later apologized to the Vision on Tuesday for asking the reporter to leave, saying she saw the Vision writer as a student and not a reporter, and made her decision based on what she thought would be sensitive catalog and curriculum discussions.

Rather than hold a vote during the meeting on whether to allow the student to hear the catalog and curriculum discussion, Crook said she made the decision to ask him before the start if he would voluntarily leave once they reached that point on the agenda, which he did.

“I apologize if that felt like that wasn’t a choice. I certainly did not mean to frame it that way,” she said Tuesday in an interview with the Vision.

Crook said she was unsure what to do with a student attending this week’s meeting, since no student has attended faculty senate in recent memory.

She said she thought the language in the bylaws was “murky” when it came to what students could hear and what they could not, and she said she may have erred “on the side of caution.”

“Faculty need to be able to speak candidly in these meetings, and I had concerns that might not happen in catalog and curriculum with the student potentially in the room, or potentially violating the catalog and curriculum process,” she said.

Crook referenced the undergraduate catalog and curriculum committee section of the bylaws which states the body “makes informed recommendations regarding changes to the university catalog, institutional policies related to student access to, and development of the curriculum, and to review and commend changes and additions to the undergraduate curricula.”

Last year, the faculty senate never went into an executive session and this year it did just once, Crook said.

“My concern at the moment, at the forefront of my mind was about protecting faculty members ability to be candid on sometimes private or sensitive issues as well as ensuring I was adhering to university guidelines regarding catalog and curriculum,” Crook said.

This article written by Justin Wagner and Joe Bendekovic. Contributing reporting by Steven Boero.

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