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Council passes drop policy

By Bill Burleson

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 6 - September 29, 1994

Members of the University Council exhibited a relaxed attitude at their first meeting of the year, taking various actions with a minimum of discussion.

Council members passed on second reading a resolution from the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies, adding some instances when the dean or the dean's designee could authorize a late drop of a class without grade penalty. Such instances would include:

* Students who change plans of study and, in the judgment of proper authorities, find the course no longer appropriate.

* Students who have missed a large number of classes, with proper documentation as to the severity of their illness or injury.

* A student who has been called home because of a death or life-threatening illness in the immediate family.

* Registration for the semester was incorrect due to a verifiable error.

* Under other extenuating circumstances as deemed appropriate by the graduate dean.

A similar policy for undergraduates was also suggested but study deemed it unnecessary at this time.

Council also heard the first reading of proposed changes in the sexual-harassment policy after a short discussion.

The policy recommendations by the Commission on Faculty Affairs were made to a large extent to bring them in line with federal regulations concerning sexual discrimination.

The section on consensual relationships was expanded with the addition of "Consensual relationships between faculty members and students enrolled in their classes or students for whom they have professional responsibility as adviser or supervisor violate the policy on Professional Ethics and Responsibilities and may be a violation of this sexual harassment policy. Similarly, consensual relationships between supervisors and employees they directly supervise violate university policy. Faculty members or supervisors involved in consensual relationships must remove themselves from any activity or evaluation that may reward or penalize the student or employee.

It also was noted that faculty members and supervisors should be aware that conducting consensual relationships with students or employees they supervise make them liable for formal action.

In the section enumerating the responsibilities of administrators and supervisors, a work environment free of sexual harassment, an explanation of the legal obligation, and the responsibility to protect a victim were among the changes detailed.

Individuals may take concerns or complaints of sexual harassment to any member of the university community for counsel and discussion of options. At any time a record is made naming an accused individual, the accused must be notified in writing as soon as possible.

In the Formal Resolution section, it was noted that if the accused is a classified employee, the director of EO/AA, in consultation with Personnel Services, will make a recommendation to the supervisor, who will follow procedures for disciplining classified employees contained in the Standards of Conduct and state grievance procedures.

The changes also include a paragraph explaining disciplinary actions saying: They "shall reflect the severity of the conduct, number and frequencies of encounters, apparent intent of the harasser, and other relevant factors in the case." They can include, but are not limited to, oral or written warnings placed in the personnel file, suspension without pay, probation, demotion, transfer, or termination of employment.

The suggested policy recommendations also clarified the definition of a faculty member and supervisor.

A proposed first reading of a Commission on Student Affairs resolution calling for changes in student evaluations of teaching professionals was continued because a commission representative was not present to make a presentation.

Bruce Harper, information analyst, reported to the council members that the transfer of minutes by computer was not going well because of the various systems being used by members. Progress is being made, he said, but it will take longer to put the system into full use than originally expected.

Robert Bates, Arts and Sciences, chairman of the search committee for senior vice president and university provost, said 95 applications and 130 nominations were received for the position and that the list of applicants would be pared to a "not so short" 24. Plans are to keep the university community abreast of the search through Spectrum.

Bates said the committee is still aiming for an announcement by July 1995 but that it is running "a little behind schedule."

President Paul Torgersen said Richmond officials have indicated they are pleased with the university's restructuring plan.