Is Not Always Golden
My predecessors have written columns on the general role of co-governance
in the university and the importance of faculty participation in university
policy making. With your indulgence, I'd like to take a few hundred
words to talk more specifically about how to make the Academic Senate's
role in co-governance stronger, why you should care, and what you
can do about it. Briefly put, it takes all of us to form a voice,
not just a few sitting around a table every other Tuesday.
The Academic Senate's job is to represent faculty, staff, and students
in the decision-making processes of the university. It is not the
only body on campus with this charge, but it has the potential of
being the most significant, making direct policy recommendations to
The way in which the senate gains influence in the university is by
providing high-quality, trusted input. In short, the better the senate's
reputation for giving good advice, the more it is listened to. It
has a critical role to play in helping the university chart its course
and setting the guidelines by which the faculty governs itself. Further,
a vibrant senate is the best assurance for continued development of
The role of senators in this process is to be honestly engaged. By
"honestly," I mean that it is every senator's responsibility
to express her or his viewpoint on the issues before the senate. By
"engaged," I mean that it is incumbent upon senators to
do their homework and be prepared to discuss the proposals at hand.
Such honest engagement leads to a full airing of informed opinions,
and, hopefully, smarter and better recommendations.
The support of honest engagement leads me to the part about what you
can do to improve the senate and its ability to be your voice in campus
governance. You can help your senators be more effective representatives.
Keep informed about campus issues, and let your senator(s) know what
you think. Better yet, offer new ideas. Even better still, become
one of those honestly engaged senators. There are lots of ways to
get a line put onto your service vita; the senate provides an opportunity
to become involved on a campuswide basis to make things better.
So, the next time that you wonder about the wisdom of a new executive
memorandum, or why a section of the FPPP is so confusing, ask yourself,
"What did I do to make this happen?" There are times when
silence is not golden. Become involved in the Academic Senate, your
– Marc Siegall, chair, Academic Senate