Council opts to give faculty majority vote

By Tom Omiatek

After much discussion, members of the University Council decided to revise a proposal which would give faculty members a majority vote on the council.

Jim Giles, executive secretary to the council, said constitutional changes would give faculty more voting power by taking away votes from the administrators and giving these votes to eight additional faculty representatives. These changes were reviewed by council members for the first time at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Giles said before the meeting the administrators had agreed to give up their votes because they felt NIU “was mature enough a university to have a faculty senate.” He said giving the faculty more vote on the council is a compromise to the formation of a faculty senate because student members would retain their voting power and the administrators would remain as ex-officio members on the council.

Most of the opposition to this change came from the student members who agreed an increase of faculty votes is necessary for some issues, but said they thought not all decisions should be restricted to a faculty majority vote, Student Association President Jim Fischer said.

SA Treasurer Lisa Schlepp said it is important to keep the votes of the administrators on the council. “Faculty have different needs and concerns than administrators. I still feel the best council is to have the representation as it stands,” she said.

Giles said after the meeting he was disappointed with the council’s progress. “I feel sure that the faculty members are not going to stop asking for a stronger voice on the council. It appears that under the current system we can’t get that because of the student opposition,” he said.

Fischer said, “We (the student members) made some progress and we have to get together to make a recommendation to the task force.” He said he was not sure what they would recommend.

One possibility, he said, would be to give the faculty variable input. “I hope they develop something that addresses the concerns of both the faculty and the staff,” he said.

The council members voted by a “narrow margin” to not approve the proposed policy for giving faculty more votes, Giles said. The council instead asked that some other version of a policy be drawn up that would give the faculty the majority of the voting membership.

Giles said, “The students are seeing more conflict of their interests and faculty interest than there really is.”

Giles said changes in the bylaws which are not related to the proposed policy to increase faculty voting power would begin to be revised by the task force.

The meeting was to act as an “open hearing” to allow reactions and input from the council members concerning the changes to the constitution. The council’s task force wanted the council’s reaction to the proposed revision before further work was done on the bylaws, Giles said.

James Banovetz, the primary author of the proposed constitutional changes, said most changes will be in the bylaws. “We (the task force) have already begun to evolve enough of these concepts (for changes), but to get there we will need the restructuring of the constitution to pave the way. Throughout the process we have tried to maximize the input at vital steps, and that’s what this (meeting) is,” Banovetz said.

Banovetz said there are four main types of changes in the proposed constitution. He said the first change is to update it. “The constitution has a tendency to not be in accordance with the evolving practices,” he said.

The second change is in the structure and responsibilities of the council and the role of the elected faculty members. The other changes are in the amount of the council’s control over its committees and the amending processes of the constitution, he said.