Friday, March 5, 2021

Faculty tables responses to SA resolutions

Plattsburgh State faculty tabled two of its own resolutions written in response to the Student Association’s resolutions, passed Feb. 19, at an all-faculty business meeting today in Yokum 200.

Nearly 200 voting members of the PSUC faculty gathered to discuss and amend the resolutions, though the number fell at least 34 seats short of the necessary 217 filled seats needed to pass or vote down the resolutions.

A draft of the first resolution would have created a zero-tolerance policy for any form of discrimination toward any member of the campus community by implementing a mandatory and ongoing diversity and inclusion training program for all faculty and staff among 12 other initiatives that would attempt to “increase the inclusive nature of the campus community.” Faculty voted to table the resolution after a lengthy debate over item A, which related to the proposed training program.

A draft of the second resolution would have responded to the SA’s vote of no confidence in at least one of three administrators: PSUC President Dr. John Ettling, Director of Student Conduct Larry Allen and Dr. J.W. Wiley in his role as chief diversity officer.

The draft stated that faculty have carefully considered actions taken by the named office holders as well as the Student Association grievances against these office holders. Per the draft, faculty could have chosen to also vote no confidence in any of three administrators, request that Presiding Officer Wendy Gordon form an ad hoc committee of faculty, staff and students to look further into these concerns and/or request a visitation from or consultation with the University Faculty Senate of SUNY.

The resolution was tabled before any specific items were discussed or amended.

Dean of Library and Information Technology Services and Chief Information Officer Holly Heller-Ross said she was “100 percent opposed” to the resolution related to a vote of no confidence.

“I believe our students [the SA] did not know everything at the time they made their resolutions,” Heller-Ross said. “I would hope [the items] would all fail.”

Several faculty took the microphone to voice concerns that they too do not have enough information to vote on the matter in good conscience.

Assistant professor of computer science Steven Crain said he was supportive of the administration, but was concerned about the poor communication about of the Snapchat incident by administrators.

“It felt like it was all being filtered through, ‘What is the world going to think? How is this going to affect our new students?’ and not giving us the information that our students or we needed,” Crain said. “It left a rumor mill running to fill in the gaps instead of being able to be on the same page.”

English professor Dr. Thomas Morrissey said he was “horrified” to hear some of his minority students are frequently victims of racial slurs and epithets hurled by passing drivers while walking down the street.

“This is a long-range problem,” Morrissey said.

“A week from today, our students are going to go home [for break],” Morrissey said. “And what they tell their friends and neighbors is going to impact our enrollment for next year.”

The faculty senate will hold its next meeting Tuesday.

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